How to file a claim with your home insurance company
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- If you have damage to your home or personal belongings, it is important to file a claim immediately.
- Failure to file a claim in a timely manner may result in denial of coverage.
- Many home insurance companies have digital apps that enable faster claims processing.
- See Insider’s picks for the best home insurance companies.
Home insurance covers your belongings and possessions against damage, often referred to as insurance risk. A peril is an event that can damage your home or property, such as theft, fire or storm.
If something happens to your home, you can have it repaired or rebuilt under the home warranty. Personal property coverage includes your furniture and personal effects. Liability insurance protects you if someone is injured on your property and sue for damages.
If you need to file a claim with your home insurance, it’s important to file your claim in a timely manner and document the damage. Failure to notify your home insurance in a timely manner could result in the denial of your claim.
How to file a claim with your home insurance company
Home insurance has three components: home coverage, personal property coverage, and liability coverage. Also, if you are forced to leave your home, you may be eligible for loss of use or additional living expenses. When filing your complaint, it will fall into one of these four categories.
If you suffer loss or damage due to an insurance risk, Steve Wilson, head of underwriting at Hippo Insurance, recommends staying in touch with your home insurance company to let them know what’s going on. at home and follow these steps when submitting insurance claims:
- Contact the insurance company to file a claim in a timely manner.
- If your home is damaged, your carrier can provide you with a list of contractors and offer DIY tips to prevent further damage.
- If you think your accommodation is uninhabitable, contact your operator before leave your home. Don’t assume loss of use or additional living expenses will apply until you speak with your carrier.
- In the event of theft or loss, you must file a police report as some carriers will require this. If you have separate jewelry insurance and your jewelry is stolen or lost, you will also need to contact that carrier.
- Take photos of the damage before removal and cleaning.
- Beware of price-gouging contractors and door-to-door scammers. Ask contractors for their license and insurance credentials to avoid fraud. If you are a tenant, your landlord is responsible for the building and structure.
- Prevent further damage to your property.
- Don’t do something that you aren’t comfortable with/that doesn’t seem safe. Home insurance has a condition to prevent further losses. Focus on a temporary solution rather than a long-term solution so that your insurance company can properly access a permanent solution by a professional.
You can call the claims number listed on your policy or file a claim online at your carrier’s website. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many carriers have digital claims filing apps where you can upload photos of the damage for faster processing.
Understand the impact of your deductible on your payment
A deductible is subtracted or deducted from the payment of your claim. Your deductible can be a dollar amount or a percentage. The Insurance Information Institute noted that the standard homeowner’s deductible is usually between $500 and $1,000. The declarations page of your insurance policy will show the amount of your deductible and whether it is a percentage or a dollar amount.
Your deductible applies each time you file a claim and only to property damage (home and personal property insurance), not liability coverage.
The damage must be due to an insurance risk. Damage due to improper maintenance and normal wear and tear is not covered. Consider an in-home warranty for regular repairs to equipment or appliances. Common insurance risks include:
- fire or lightning
- Storm or hail
- falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow or sleet
- Accidental spillage or overflow of water or steam
- Sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning or bulging
- Sudden and accidental damage due to short circuit
- Volcanic eruption
Also keep in mind that there are limits to your coverage. Home coverage is the amount needed to rebuild your home if it is damaged. Basic homeowners liability coverage generally has a limit of $100,000. Similarly, basic personal property coverage has a limit of $100,000.
Unless you’ve increased your limits or purchased an umbrella policy — additional liability coverage available as an add-on rider to your homeowners insurance — your claims will be subject to those limits, minus your deductible.
*Available as an additional cover if not part of the policy
** Flood insurance is available through the NFIP and approved insurers
***If you live in hurricane or tornado areas, an additional windstorm endorsement may be required
Owners in disaster-prone areas may have additional requirements
If you live in a disaster-prone area, such as a part of the country where hurricanes or tornadoes are common, you may need additional endorsements or separate policies for natural disasters.
Earthquakes, floods, government foreclosures, mudslides, ordinances updates, sewer backups and sinkholes are all perils that won’t be covered by home insurance, according to Hippo Insurance. . These will require additional coverage using an endorsement policy. Flood insurance is a separate policy.
If you have a separate flood insurance policy and your home was damaged, you will need to file a separate claim with that carrier. Don’t assume your home insurance company is in contact with your flood insurance provider.
Actual cash value versus replacement cost
Home insurance policies generally use “replacement cost” when paying for covered damage. Replacement cost is the cost of replacing the item with a new or used product.
Actual cash value (ACV) takes into account the depreciation of the item. For example, if a five-year-old leather sofa is damaged in a fire, the actual cash value takes into account the age of the sofa. The actual cash value is generally less than the replacement cost value. Flood insurance generally uses actual cash value.
For specialty jewelry and fine art, you will be covered for the appraised value minus any deductible assuming you have purchased an endorsement.
Home insurance premiums may increase after a claim is filed
Filing a claim may increase your insurance premium depending on the number of previously filed claims or the amount of damages claimed. This is especially true if you’ve had a dog bite or a liability claim that resulted in a lawsuit. Some carriers will even drop off customers if their pet bites or injures someone.
Talk to your home insurance provider to find out how filing a claim can impact future premiums.
Will home insurance cover the move?
“Loss of use” coverage, also known as “additional living expenses” or ALE, is included in most homeowners’ and tenants’ insurance policies and provides reimbursement for temporary accommodation when a peril causes damage to your belongings or property that makes your home or rental unit habitable.
For ‘loss of use’ and ‘additional living expenses’ it all depends on your insurance company and varies by provider. Some carriers will reimburse you for temporary accommodation. Others may have a list of housing alternatives.
Ashlee Tilford, editor of Insurance.com, told Insider that most homeowners have the wrong idea of what constitutes “livable.” Do not assume that your insurer will pay additional living expenses, as the definition of habitable varies from company to company.
If you plan to leave your home due to damage, first contact your home or renter’s insurance provider and take detailed photos of the damage. Also be sure to lock and secure the premises.
If your home insurance company hasn’t provided the level of service you expected, it may be time to switch to a new provider. Remember that a cheap price does not mean good customer service. Focus on customer satisfaction rankings, like those from JD Power.
Ronda Lee is Associate Editor for Insurance at Personal Finance Insider, covering life, auto, home, and renters insurance for consumers. She is also a licensed attorney and has practiced insurance litigation and defense.