Whether we want to admit it or not, accidents do happen, and you should know what to do in the event of a claim. Many people react at the first site and immediately file the claim. Only to be aggravated later when the claim is not covered, or the claim does not outweigh the deductible. What you may not realize, once you file a claim (whether the carrier pays out or not), the claim will remain on your record for 5 years. While the impact is not huge for a $0 claim, it can affect your rate with a new carrier or the new carrier could deny coverage due to the number of $0 claims.
1. Assess the damage. Home: Walk the property and take pictures of the damage. Auto: Walk around the car, be sure to look underneath the vehicle and take pictures. It is important to take pictures of both vehicles, the location of the accident, etc. Often the police will not come out for a minor accident. You need to have evidence to determine which driver is at fault. If the police do not indicate fault on a report, it is up to the insurance carrier to determine fault. This becomes your word against the other driver!
2. Swap information *This is only related to an auto claim* Get the other driver’s name, phone number, and picture of their insurance card. This is helpful during the claims process. If the other driver is at fault, file the claim with their company. If you are not at fault and you file with your own, you will pay your deductible. You will get this back, however it can take MONTHS if the other driver has a substandard carrier.
3. Know your deductible!! It only adds more time to your repair if you file the claim, wait for the adjuster to come out and obtain your assessment only to find out the damage is less than your deductible. It also means the claim will be on your record for 5 years.
4. Contact service professionals for a bid to determine if the damage outweighs your deductible. Do your homework. If the claim is less than your deductible and the claim is filed with the carrier, it will be on your record for 5 years. I have had clients denied coverage by other carriers due to too many small claims.
5. Mitigate the damage. Once pictures have been taken it is safe to clean up the area. You want to do this so the damage does not become worse.
6. Consult your agent with any questions or issues. Many assume we are alerted every time someone files a claim, but we are NOT. Your agent can help set expectations, obtain answers, and fight if need be.
*Please note, this is only for small claims. If it is a large claim (i.e. fire, major roof damage, etc.) call immediately to get the process started. The carrier will provide you immediate relief funds to stay somewhere safe!
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 forhome 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.
Homes often grow and change alongside the people living in them. If you’ve added expensive furnishings or made substantial upgrades, it’s important to re-evaluate your homeowners insurance and make sure your policy reflects those changes. Here are four instances when it may be beneficial to review and adjust your coverage.
Remodeling or Renovation Work Home improvement projects typically increase the value of your home, which usually calls for more coverage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your insurance rates will automatically increase. In fact, some projects, like adding a new roof, may help you save on your monthly home insurance premiums. Just be sure to notify your provider before any work begins.
Adding a Pool or an Outdoor Trampoline Because these fun home features come with increased risk of injury, they’re labeled an attractive nuisance. Upping your liability insurance can help keep you protected if there’s ever an accident on your property and a subsequent lawsuit.
Acquiring New Valuables Whether you inherit them or purchase them, expensive goods such as jewelry, art, rugs and antiques should be added to your policy. Increasing your coverage is the only way to safeguard them in the event of damage or theft.
Starting a Home Business Many home-based business owners don’t realize they have little, if any, coverage from a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Since a new home business likely means purchasing new technology and expensive equipment, you may need to get additional protection.
You worked hard for your home. Secure your belongings by updating your coverage to match your circumstances.
On March 31st, 2014 the historic 1st year of the Health Care Reform Act enrollment will come to a close. As a last reminder, if you are eligible for enrollment this is what you can expect…
IF YOU ENROLL IN A PLAN
If you currently have a health insurance plan, you will NOT be able to make ANY changes until the next open enrollment. Generally the open enrollment period will be each year between October-December. Any changes made during this time will take effect January 1, 2015.
If you are still planning to enroll, policies applied for by March 15th will take effect April 1st. Policies applied for between March 16-March 31st will take effect May 1st. As long as you make a decision by March 31st you will avoid the penalty.
If you qualified for a subsidy (via the marketplace) be sure to check your results. MANY require that you send additional documentation by the end of open enrollment in order to keep your subsidy. The additional requirements can be sent via mail or uploaded to your marketplace account. If you plan on mailing the documents I suggest sending it certified so you have proof that it was received.
IF YOU DO NOTHING
You will be locked out of being able to join a plan…unless you fall into a special election period (marriage, child birth, loss of coverage, etc). If you’ve chosen this option I recommend purchasing a critical illness/accident plan. It is NOT the same as health insurance but in the event you injure yourself or are diagnosed with a critical illness, the plan will pay you an allotted amount ($5,000-$50,000). The plans start as low as $2 per month for critical illness and $15 per month for accident coverage.
You can expect to receive a $95 per person ($47.5 per child under the age of 18) penalty on your 2014 federal tax return (this will increase in 2015)
Have you heard about Critical Illness Insurance and Accident Coverage?
Critical illness insurance is an insurance product, where the insurer is contracted to typically make a lump sum cash payment if the policyholder is diagnosed with one of the critical illnesses listed in the insurance policy (usually cancer, heart attack, or stroke).
Accident Coverage is an insurance product, where the insurer is contracted to typically make a lump sum cash payment if the policyholder is involved in an accident at work or play (examples include: broken bones, stitches, sports related injuries and general clumsiness).
Since preventative services come standard with ALL plans you are more likely to use your deductible due to a critical illness or injury. The purpose of these plans are to use the funds towards your deductible.
Rates depend upon age and amount of coverage but can start as low as $2.75 per month with $10,000 in coverage.