Most insurance companies are easy to deal with when you are paying them, before you actually need them. Homeowner’s Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with when filing a claim. While homeowners assume their policy covers losses to their home, as well as injuries or property damage sustained on their property, typical homeowner’s insurance coverage sometimes has loop holes they never knew existed.
Here are eight things you should know about your homeowner’s insurance policy.
- You can reopen a claim after you receive a check. When your home suffers damages from a storm, fire, or disaster, your homeowner’s insurance company will send one of their own insurance adjusters to assess your loss. Eventually, you will receive a check for the amount that the Insurance Carrier has determined to cover the cost of the claim. However, did you know that if you discover damages missed initially you can reopen the claim and file an amended claim to seek additional monies? Hiring a public adjuster to re-assess the damages and reopen your claims within five years of the date of loss and three years if it is a sinkhole claim could result in a higher settlement.
- Red means fire, and savings. Living close to a fire department may mean sirens in the middle of the night, but it also means protection if your home is on fire one day. Homeowner’s insurance companies normally give lower insurance premiums for homes that:
- Live in a community with a highly rated fire department;
- Living within a specific distance of a fire department;
- Have a fire hydrant within 1,000 feet of the home;
- Asset Documentation. Extensive damages, such as large scale fires or floods, often result in some or all the homeowner’s personal property to be either burnt to the point where it is not recognizable, or not accessible. However, your Insurance Company will require that you remember each and every item that was in your home, and separately describe each item on what is referred to as an “inventory”. This can, at best, be an overwhelming and tedious task, and at worst, a very common loss of owed insurance recovery monies. With all the various belongings you have in your home, your Insurance Company will only pay for what you can remember; forgetting to list an item is essentially as if you never owned the item in the first place. This can become a very large amount of money, when a typical inventory may have around 3000 line items, and even 10% of your belonging are forgotten. Public Adjusters usually work with personal property specialists, who are trained in forensic recreation, whom can take much of this important requirement out of your hands. Additionally, it is also a very good idea to have an “Asset Documentation” conducted prior to sustaining a loss. This is essentially an inventory conducted of your personal property, and then stored remotely, in the case that you may ever need to use it. As an additional benefit, having a pre-disaster inventory recorded can sometimes provide discounts on your Insurance premiums. Consult with your Insurance Agent/Broker on discounts associated with having a pre-disaster inventory.
- Promise is a promise. Contrary to popular belief, homeowners insurance companies cannot cancel a policy that has been active for more than 60 days EXCEPT if the insured party:
- Fails to pay the premium;
- Commits fraud;
- Lies or makes other misrepresentations on the original application;
- Abandons the property or allows it to fall into disrepair.
Once a policy reaches its one year anniversary, the homeowner’s insurance company can renew the policy at its discretion. Homeowner’s insurance company rules vary by state, but most companies are required to give a 30 day written notice of a nonrenewal. Always check your State’s Department of Insurance or consult a licensed Public Adjuster or Attorney in the State your property is located.
- All dogs are not equal. Most homes have dogs, cats and other animals as family pets. However, owning various “high risk” breeds such as German Shepherds and Pit Bulls can be a problem. Most policies provide, as a standard, $300K liability coverage to protect homeowners from damages sustained on their property. However, some homeowner’s insurance companies refuse to give coverage for aggressive breeds (such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans) or limit the coverage you are allowed to purchase. Still other homeowner’s insurance companies provide coverage for aggressive breeds at a premium while some simply exclude from coverage damages related to aggressive breeds.
- Remodeling could get expensive. Are you debating adding or updating a room? Call your Public Adjuster or Insurance Broker /Agent first! It is important to ask your Public Adjuster and/or Broker if your homeowner’s insurance needs to be updated or if additional coverage should be purchased to protect your updates or additions. Additionally, it’s imperative that you ask all contractors and subcontractors to provide a copy of their own insurance policies, including both the commercial business/general liability policy and workers’ compensation policy. Ask you Public Adjuster to look over your contractors’ policies; if adequate coverage is not provided, consider hiring a different contactor.
- Water damage coverage is worth it. Between 2008 and 2012, water damage insurance claims were the second most commonly filed insurance claim in the U.S. Many people are aware that flood coverage is a separate policy. However, most people don’t realize that coverage for sewage and drain backups is as well. Coverage for sewage and drain backups is well worth the money as anything involving water does a great deal more irreparable damage than most people realize. Talk to your public adjuster about the cost of coverage for both flood and sewage and drain backups.
- Deductibles matter. One way to save on your homeowner’s insurance premium is to increase your deductible. By increasing your deductible from $500 to $2500, most homeowners saw a net savings of 25%. You may save even more by increasing your deductible even more; keep in mind, however, the out-of-pocket expenses should you suffer a loss.
Your Public Adjuster can always answer any questions you may have about your insurance coverage and filing a homeowner’s insurance claim. Advocate Claims has been representing families in Florida, for over 10 years. Rest assured that our licensed public adjusters are knowledgeable in the insurance claims process and policies. Call 954-369-0573 today to speak with a Public Adjuster.