Your dishwasher floods and ruins your beautiful wooden floors. A tree falls on your fence and knocks it down. A hailstorm dents your roof and smashes in your skylight.
Most of us would think to simply file a claim with our homeowners insurance and they will take care of it. Unfortunately filing a claim to your homeowners insurance is not as straightforward as expected.
An insurance company considers many things when it comes to paying a claim. Sometimes your insurance company will raise your premium or cancel your policy all together. Sometimes they reject the claim because you’re not actually covered for what you thought you were.
Damages happen to your home at any time and by various causes, but how do you know when and when not to file a claim with your homeowners insurance? Here are a few tips for when and when not to file a claim:
1. Don’t file a claim unless it’s significantly more than your deductible
Before you file a claim it’s a good idea to assess the damage and understand all the costs involved in the repairs. If the cost to repair is less than the deductible or only slight above the deductible, it’s usually better not to file a claim and fork over the money out of pocket. However, if the cost to repair is significantly more than your deductible, at least double the deductible, then it should qualify as a claim.
2. Don’t file a claim if you aren’t actually covered
Check your coverage before you file any type of claim on your homeowners insurance. Sometimes people think they are covered for certain losses that are not covered. For example, many people think they are covered for flood damage when in fact flood insurance is a completely different policy and not included in homeowners insurance.
3. Don’t file a claim if it’s not sudden, accidental, and catastrophic
Insurance companies are very picky when it comes to the type of damage they will cover for your home. If your son accidentally breaks a window while throwing baseballs in the backyard, your insurance may or may not cover the damage. While it is sudden and accidental, it’s not necessarily catastrophic. Another example type of claim that often gets rejected is if the damage is actually a home improvement project, like a rotted fence or old carpet. Read your homeowners insurance policy carefully to determine what exactly they will cover.
4. Don’t file a claim if you’ve submitted too many claims in one year
This one is tricky because there is no fine line for how many claims are too many. It’s a good idea to keep track of how many claims you file each year and check your history before filing another. A good way to do that is to look up your CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange), which is a collection of all the personal auto and property claims you’ve made over the past 7 years. Insurance companies measure your chances of receiving a settlement based on your CLUE, so it’s smart to be familiar.
5. When in doubt, ask your agent!
Considering the fact that filing a homeowners insurance claim is tricky, it’s usually best to go through an insurance agent who knows the ins and outs of the industry. They can help you determine whether a claim will increase your premiums or knock you off the policy or if you might have a chance of getting a settlement.
Don’t have an insurance agent?
If you’re looking for some guidance on filing a homeowners insurance claim, just contact us for a complimentary quote and to discuss your particular needs.