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 usually provides insurance coverage for each of these situations and many more because it is typically 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 A Claim
Be sure you know the answers to these questions before you have to file a claim:
Do you have a record of the personal property inside of your home? Have a home inventory completed and stored in a safe place outside of your home. Videotaping the rooms of your home will also help provide a record of the furnishings and personal property that is stored inside of your home. Having these types of records available will help you to provide proof of the financial cost of your loss.
- Is your home insured for at least 80 percent of its replacement value? (If you have less coverage, you may not be fully reimbursed for any partial damage.)
- Are your belongings insured for actual cash value (replacement cost of an item minus depreciation) or replacement cost (the amount it would take to replace the item at current prices)? Most policies provide compensation on an actual cash value basis rather than a replacement cost basis. Talk with one of our agents to determine whether purchasing replacement cost coverage is worth the extra premium.
- What liability coverages are provided in your homeowners policy? If you have questions, now is the time to find the 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. A medical payment claim begins, as do others, with a call to Insurance Centers or directly to the insurance company.
Filing Your Claim
Here's what to do when you have a home insurance claim:
Report any burglary or theft to police.
- Phone Insurance Centers or the insurance company immediately. Insurance policies place a time limit on filing claims. Ask questions. Am I covered? Does my claim exceed my deductible? (Your deductible is the amount of loss you agree to pay yourself when you buy a policy.) How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?
- Follow up your call with an explanation of what happened in writing, at the request of your agent or company.
- 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.