Insurance is there for you when you need it. It’s your the safety net. But when something happens to your house or car, it can cause a lot of stress not knowing what is covered or how to file a claim. Depending on what kind of damage you’re facing, filing an insurance claim might help relieve some of the financial problems.
What Is an Insurance Claim?
Filing an insurance claim means you’re making a formal request to your insurance company to receive funds to help you pay for repairs and other expenses caused by an event (car accident or a home burglary) that is covered by your insurance.
Every situation is different, and as an Independent Agent, I can help you outline the specifics and assist in filing a claim. Below, I have provided common questions and answers to help you understand filing insurance claims for home or auto insurance.
Q. What I am in a car accident and not at fault?
- Be sure to obtain the other person’s insurance card. Taking a picture with your phone is the easiest and most acceptable.
- File the claim with the other party’s insurance carrier. If you file it with your own, you will be obligated to pay your deductible (typically $500). Your carrier will fight to get this back, however depending on the other party’s carrier (i.e. substandard) this could take months to get your money back. Once the money is returned to the carrier, they will send it back to you. This is often referred to as subrogation.
- If you file with the claim with other party, you will be able to obtain a rental car at the expense of the other insurance carrier.
- Do NOT wait for the other driver to file the claim. If you want to get the ball rolling, use the information from the ID card they provided to file the claim. The carrier will require a statement from you and the other driver.
Q. What if I am in a car accident and at fault?
- Provide the other party with your ID card. If your car is damaged and you want it fixed, contact your carrier. If not, you can choose to pay the damages out of pocket or file it with your insurance carrier. I recommend NOT providing your ID card if you plan on paying it out of pocket. Any time you contact the carrier direct to ask about a claim or file the claim, only to pay it out of pocket, the claim will be on your record for 5 years.
- If you are at fault, rental car reimbursement is only provided if you have rental reimbursement on your policy. Many people with liability only coverage or more vehicles than drivers do NOT have rental reimbursement. If this is important to you, may sure your policy covers it. The additional is cost is normally $30 per year per vehicle.
Q. What if I need rental car coverage?
- Rental car reimbursement only provides coverage when your vehicle is damaged due to an accident. It does NOT provide coverage due to your vehicle breaking down.
- The car rental company will ask if you want to purchase their insurance coverage. Please note, your policy will provide coverage to the rental vehicle. If you had to file a claim, the claim will be listed on your record and may affect your rate in the future.
Q. What if I am injured in a auto accident?
- If you are injured in an auto mobile accident, the carrier (yours or the other party’s, depending who is at fault), will pay for medical damages, lost wages, etc. I recommend contacting an attorney to help you through the process. If you do not have an attorney, I am happy to recommend one as I work with multiple.
- If the other party’s coverage does not provide enough coverage, your policy will cover for any additional expenses, under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Q. What if I have water damage?
- If the damage is caused by water, take many pictures, and get the water out ASAP. The longer the water sits, the more damage will incur, and many policies have a limit on water damage (i.e. $5,000 or $10,000).
- The carrier will provide you a check for the initial damages, less depreciation. Once the damages have been repaired you must show proof to receive 100% of the payout. Receipts or construction contracts will work as proof.
Q. What if I have a claim on a rental property?
- If the claim is on a rental property, the carrier will ask for proof that the property was/is occupied. If the property is insured as tenant occupied and is actually vacant, they will deny coverage. Call me if your property is vacant as we will adjust coverage immediately.
Q. What if someone is injured on my property?
- If someone is injured on your property, they will receive payout from your medical coverages (typically $5,000 max) if it is worse than that they will sue you for the limit of your liability coverage/umbrella. This limit is typically $300,000 for a single-family residence and an additional $1 million with the umbrella.
- Liability coverage protects you in the event anyone is injured on your property. Invited or not, you can and will be sued due to an injury.
Q. What if I have fire damage?
- In the event of a fire loss, the carrier will ask for a list of ALL of your personal possessions. If it is not a total loss, they will be able to obtain pictures of the remaining items, but I ALWAYS recommend taking pictures/videos of your personal possessions; open drawers, closets, under beds, etc. You will NEVER remember everything you own without some sort of documentation.
Q. What if I need replacement costs for personal possessions?
- I write ALL of my home/renters’ policies to include replacement cost of your personal possessions. This means the carrier will provide you the full value to replace your personal effects.
Q. What if my dog bites someone?
- Your home/renter’s policy does provide coverage for dog bites. Depending on the severity of the dog bite, the medical portion will pay out first (typically $5,000 limit) followed by your liability (typically $300,000) and umbrella (if you have one). However, depending on the type of dog you own (Pit Bull, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, etc.) the carrier may deny coverage.
If you have questions about how to file a claim or wonder if you should file a claim feel free to call me at 708-444-0050. I normally recommend you obtain quotes for the damage(s) before you decide whether to file. It does not make sense to file a claim if the damages are less than or just over your deductible.
NOTE: The questions asked to me will not go on your record.
As a reminder, all home claims and at fault accidents are subject to the deductible. This means the carrier will collect the deductible before anything is paid out.