Home insurance is important for both homeowners and renters. Homeowners need to purchase insurance to protect their homes and personal property. Those who rent need insurance to protect their furniture and personal property. Everyone needs protection against liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property.
Whether you live in tornado alley, wildfire zones or along coastlines prone to flooding and hurricanes – now is the time to properly insure your home and possessions.
In recent years severe weather disasters across the country have inflicted more than $43 billion in damage. But research suggests more than half of consumers do not have an inventory of their possessions.
Now is the time to make sure you have properly insured your 'stuff.'
A Consumer’s Guide to Home Insurance
April, May and June are peak tornado months in the U.S. and it’s during this time that tornadoes are most active and dangerous. But it’s not just tornadoes that can cause damage to your property. Hurricane season begins in June and some forecasters are predicting a slightly above average Atlantic Hurricane season for 2018. Flooding will be a concern as well. With the exception of fire, floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters. With any natural disaster, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared and that your home and belongings are protected. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a litany of consumer information.
In times of crisis or following a major disaster, many consumers may be overwhelmed and confused by the insurance claims-filing process. However, it is critical that claims be filed correctly to ensure you receive all the payments due to you.
Here are some tips from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to help you “Get Smart” and to help you avoid problems in getting your claims paid!
A home inventory can save you time and headaches when filing a claim following a disaster.
The easiest way to complete this is to use your video, camera or phone to create a record. When a new item comes into your business or home simply make a video of it including the receipt.
Store copies of the photos/videos in a set place – personally we have found www.shutterfly.com, www.dropbox.com and www.smugmug.com to be great options for videos and photos. We chose these particular companies for varying reasons the greatest being that they are online and available from anywhere in the world. They are also in different places with different servers increasing the chances that we’ll be able to retrieve needed info fast and effectively in a crisis.
It is also good to ensure that more than one person can access the information. Whether for business or personal access is critical. We have found that having 3 people in at least 3 areas of the world is a good policy.
1. Know Your Policy
Understand what your policy says. The policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. Know what’s covered, what’s excluded and what the deductibles are.
2. File Claims As Soon As Possible
Don’t let the bills or receipts pile up. Call your agent or your company’s claims hotline as soon as possible. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
3. Provide Complete, Correct Information
Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
4. Keep Copies of all Correspondence
Whenever you communicate with your insurance company, be sure to keep copies and records of all correspondence. Write down information about your telephone and in-person contacts, including the date, name and title of the person you spoke with and what was said. Also keep a record of your time and expenses.
5. Ask Questions
Ask the company for the specific language in the policy that is in question. Find out if the disagreement is because you and the insurance company interpret your policy differently.
6. Don’t Rush into a Settlement
If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement. If you have any questions regarding the fairness of your settlement, seek professional advice.
7. Auto and Homeowner Claims
Auto and homeowners policies may require you to make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Your policy should cover the cost of these repairs, so keep all receipts. Also, maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photos or videos of the damage before making repairs.
– Don’t make permanent repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before the damage is inspected.
– If possible, determine what it will cost to repair your property before you meet with the claims adjuster.
– Provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made to your property.
– Ask the claims adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.
8. Accident and Health Claims
Ask your physician to provide your insurance company with details about your treatment, medical condition and prognosis.
– If you suspect a provider is overcharging, ask the insurance company to audit the bill and verify whether the provider used the proper billing procedure. If you still owe a large balance, your provider may submit the bill to the local medical society peer review committee to review the charges.
9. Get More Information
If you believe you have been treated unfairly in getting a claim paid, please contact your state insurance department.
You can link to your insurance department’s Web site by visiting
. Click on “State Insurance Regulators Web Sites,” then click on your state.