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Being Prepared to Make an Insurance Claim

So you have purchased renter’s insurance. Now what? Do you still have a few questions? Do you want to know more about the process? Here are a few general procedures and answers to help guide you along the way. Hopefully these tips will help you be prepared in the event of an incident.

UntitledYou should be aware of what type of coverage you have purchased. There are two basic types of renter’s insurance. The first one is actual cash value. Actual cash value insurance will pay the cost of replacing your items minus the depreciated value. Replacement cost coverage on the other hand reimburses the full amount that you paid for the items. Replacement cost coverage policies are generally a little bit more expensive but they usually pay out more in case of an incident. You can usually choose the deductible that you want for your policy. Most renter’s insurance policies come with a $250 deductible. You can save money by choosing a $500 deductible and even more money if you choose a $1000 deductible but be aware that you will have to pay more out of pocket in the event of an incident.

If you’re looking for more affordable coverage there are other discounts that you can get through your insurance company besides choosing a higher deductible. Most insurance companies will reduce your premiums if you have an alarm system, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, and dead bolts on your exterior doors. Some insurance companies also offer multiple policy discounts. If you have your auto insurance or any other policies through the same company, it may be wise to double check for these discounts. One other way you can usually save money is by paying for your entire 12 month policy up front instead of spreading it out over 12 months. You may also want to evaluate your personal possessions. If you have more coverage than you need, you may also be paying more than you need. Don’t cut your coverage short but it may be wise to avoid paying double the coverage that you need.

Okay, now that you have renter’s insurance, let’s go over what to do next. These tips will help you make sure you have everything ready as well as expedite your claim in case of an accident. Start by taking an inventory of everything in your home. Make an itemized list of everything you own with price estimates and serial numbers. If you have receipts for big items save them with your inventory. This inventory will help insure that you choose the right coverage for your home. Make sure to store a second copy of this inventory somewhere outside the home; such as in a safe deposit box or at a friend’s house.

You should always read through contracts before signing them. However, if you didn’t before you purchased your policy, you should definitely read through the entire policy to make sure that you understand the process and limitations of your policy. It’s better to know everything now than try to read through it in the case of an emergency. If you have any questions you should ask your insurance agent to explain the policy for you.

2In the event that you need to make a claim, you should contact your landlord. In most states this is mandatory and usually in your lease agreement. Next, you should report damages or losses to the authorities. You do not need to contact the authorities in the event that an animal destroyed something or if a natural disaster has occurred, use your best judgement when contacting the authorities. In most cases it is required in your insurance policy that you inform the authorities of the incident. This will provide a police report which will show additional proof of the incident to your insurance company as well as help the claims process go a little more smoothly. Be sure to contact your insurance company within 48-72 hours of the incident happening. If you don’t already know how the process takes place, your insurance agent will explain it to you.

3After you have contacted everyone that needs to be notified, you should try to safeguard your home. Board up any windows that were broken, change locks on exterior doors, or make temporary living arrangements. Your insurance company will then ask you to document your damages or losses. This is when the inventory list you made will come in handy. Take photographs or videos of the damage to send to your insurance company. Make a detailed list of all of the damages or losses for your insurance company and then complete a claims form. Once all of this has been completed, your insurance company will then start an investigation and work with you to keep you updated on the rest of the claim.
It is also important to understand why claims may be denied. Generally when a claim is denied it is for one of many reasons. If your damages are less than your deductible then it is in your best interest to replace the losses or have the damages fixed. There’s no sense in spending $1000 on your deductible if the damages were only $500. Certain disasters may not be covered, such as flood or hurricane. If your insurance policy does not cover the disaster that happened, they will deny your claim. These are only two of the reasons a claim may be denied. Be sure to check with your insurance agent for any other reasons or have them explain why if your claim was already denied.

If you have any other questions about your renter’s insurance policy, please contact your insurance agent. Check our renter’s insurance FAQ for more general information on renter’s insurance.