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.
Insurance is difficult to understand, whether it’s the confusing descriptions, understanding coverage, or the different types of plans offered. Because of how complicated insurance can be, many people are reluctant to buy it, fearing they’ll make the wrong choice. As an independent agent, I can help navigate you and your family through all of the confusing information presented in plans.
Homeowner’s and Rental insurance policies, for instance, can be difficult to understand. But have no fear, I have compiled some of the commonly asked questions and answers about Homeowners and Rental insurance.
Homeowners Insurance Q&A
Q: What are some practical things I can do to lower the cost of my home insurance? A: Look for any discounts that you may qualify for. For example, many insurers will offer a discount when you place both your car and homeowners insurance with them. Other times, insurers offer discounts if there are deadbolt exterior locks on all your doors, or if your home has a security system. I can also help you find out bout any discounts that you may qualify for. Another easy way to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance is to raise your deductible. Increasing your deductible from $250 to $500 will lower your premium, sometimes by as much as five or ten percent.
Q: What does homeowners insurance cover? A: The typical homeowners policy has two main sections: Section I covers the property of the insured and Section II provides personal liability coverage for the insured. Usually, homeowners insurance is required by the lender to obtain a mortgage.
Q: What is the difference between “actual cash value” and “replacement cost”? A: Covered losses under a homeowners policy can be paid on either an actual cash value basis or on a replacement cost basis. When “actual cash value” is used, the policy owner is entitled to the depreciated value of the damaged property. Under the “replacement cost” coverage, the policy owner is reimbursed on an amount necessary to replace the article with one of similar type and quality at current prices.
Q: What factors should I consider when purchasing homeowners insurance? A: Determine the amount and type of insurance you will need. The coverage limit of your house should equal 100% of its replacement cost. If your policy limit is less than 80% of the replacement cost of your home, any payment from will be less than the full cost to replace your home – you’ll have to pay the rest out of your own pocket. Also, decide if the personal property and personal liability limits are adequate for your needs.
Decide which, if any, additional endorsements you want to add to your policy. For example, do you want the personal property replacement cost endorsement, sump pump or sewer back up endorsement, or a jewelry endorsement?
I will be able to help you determine if there are any gaps in coverage that you might not have been aware of, explain the details of the policy’s exclusions and limitations, as well as recommend an insurance company that will live up to your expectations.
Q: What are the policy limits (i.e., coverage limits) in the standard homeowners policy. A: Note: this answer is based on the Insurance Services Office’s HO-3 policy. The home and other structures on the premises are protected on an “all risks” basis up to the policy limits. “All risks” means that unless the policy specifically excludes the manner in which your home is damaged or destroyed, there is coverage. The policy limit for the home is set by the policy owner at the time the insurance is purchased. The policy limit for the other structure is usually equal to 10% of the policy limit for the home.
Losses to your personal property are covered on a “named perils” basis. “Named perils” means that you have coverage only when your property is damaged or destroyed in the manner specifically described in the policy. The policy limit on the coverage is equal to 50% of the policy limit on the home. Limits for the coverage of additional expenses that the policy owner may incur, when the residence cannot be used because of an insured loss, is equal to 20% of the policy limit on the home. Find out more about coverage options
Q: Where and when is my personal property covered? A: Personal property (except property that is specifically excluded) is covered anywhere in the world. For example, suppose that while traveling, you purchase a dresser and you want to ship it home. Your homeowners policy would provide coverage for the “named perils” while the dresser is in transit – even though the dresser has never been in your home before.
Renters Insurance Q&A
Q: Why would I want to buy renters insurance? A: A standard renters insurance policy protects your personal property in many cases of theft or damage, and may pay for temporary living expenses if your rental is damaged. It can also shield you from personal liability. Anyone who leases a house or apartment should consider this type of coverage
Q: How does a renters insurance policy protect my personal property? A: A renters insurance policy provides named perils coverage. This means that the policy only pays when your property is damaged or destroyed by any of the ways specifically described in the policy. These usually include:
Fire or lightning
Windstorm or hail
Vandalism or malicious mischief
Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
Volcanic eruptions (but this doesn’t include earthquake or tremors)
Renters insurance coverage applies to your personal property no matter where you are in the world. This means you’re covered when you are on vacation as well as at home.
Q: Why do some apartment complexes require tenants to have renters insurance? A: Owners of apartment complexes buy insurance policies for their liability in order to cover their buildings and personal property. However, these policies do not cover any of the tenant’s property or liability. By requiring their tenants to have renters insurance, the apartment owner is assured that the tenants will not mistakenly believe the apartment complex owner’s policy will provide coverage for a tenant’s property or personal liability. Although this type of requirement benefits the apartment complex owner, there are benefits for the renter as well.
Q: What if I share my apartment with a roommate? Do we both need to have renters insurance? A: Standard renter’s policies cover only you and relatives that live with you. If your roommate is not a relative, each of you will need your own renter’s insurance policy to cover your own property and to provide you liability coverage for your own actions.
Have questions about Homeowners or Rental Insurance? Contact me at 708-444-0050 or click below.