Home Insurance Claims

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Those crumbs in your toaster start a fire in your kitchen….Little Suzy from next door falls out of the tree house in your backyard ….A tornado damages your home, forcing you to move temporarily to a motel….

Your homeowners policy provides insurance coverage for each of these situations and many more because it is a “package” of insurance for (1) your house, furniture and personal belongings, (2) your liability to others and (3) additional living expenses you may incur if your home is severely damaged.

Before You Have Home Insurance Claims

Be sure you know the answers to these questions before you have to file home insurance claims:

  • Is your home insured to replacement value? Policy provisions can differ among companies. Check with your policy or agent to determine the specific requirements and if/when a co-insurance penalty could be triggered.
  • What is your deductible? The deductible is the amount you have agreed to pay out of your own pocket before insurance kicks in. Is it a set dollar amount or is it a percentage deductible? Percentage deductibles are based on the limit of property insurance, not on the amount of the claim. Talk with your agent for clarification.
  • Do you have a metal roof? Is cosmetic damage covered? Many companies are excluding coverage for cosmetic damage to metal roofs, such as hail dents. In many cases, the function of the roofing would have to be compromised (i.e. the hail punctured a hole or crack) in order for coverage to apply. Ask your agent if your policy provides or excludes cosmetic damage coverage.
  • Are your belongings insured for replacement cost (the amount it would take to replace the item at current prices) or actual cash value (replacement cost of an item minus depreciation)? Discuss with your agent whether you are on replacement cost or ACV.
  • What liability coverages are provided in your homeowners policy? If you have questions, now is the time to ask your insurance representative for answers.
  • What amount of medical payments coverage is included in your homeowners policy? This type of coverage pays for medical expenses of a guest injured in your home, regardless of fault.

Filing Your Claim

Here’s what to do when you have a home insurance claim:

  • Report any burglary or theft to police.
  • Phone your agent or company immediately.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
  • Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles. Save receipts from any additional living expenses you incur if your home is so severely damaged that you have to find other accommodations while repairs are being made.
  • Provide needed information to the insurance representative assigned to handle your claim.

Talk things over with your agent and adjuster if you are dissatisfied with the settlement offer.