When disaster strikes, generally people are completely distracted when it comes time to file an Insurance claim. After a disrupting incident, like a fire or plumbing leak, it is difficult to navigate the murky waters of your insurance policy. While completely understandable, this is a time when you can make some serious mistakes that may cause you to lose out on some big money by saying the wrong thing to an insurance company. It often seems that people acting with the best of intentions end up suffering the most. When it comes to home repairs, sometimes contacting your insurance company about a seemingly basic home repair question can end up costing you dearly. A comparison of an insurance agent to a police officer would be apt. Talking to an insurance company is just like talking to a police officer:
Everything you say can and will be used against you.
Understanding your insurance policy is crucial when dealing with agents. Review your insurance policy thoroughly to see what your insurer will pay out. When speaking to your agent, it is important to keep your opinions to yourself. Only state the simple facts, and don’t make any guesses or extra information. It is much better to say “I don’t know” than to venture a guess that can be held against you later.
3 Questions Before You Call
In most cases, the status of a home repair claim comes down to three basic questions:
- What did the homeowner know about the maintenance issue?
- When did the homeowner know it?
- And who did the homeowner share this information with?
Keeping this in mind, one obviously should not admit guilt over the phone or in writing. Your conversations and emails are most likely being recorded and can and will be used against you to deny your claim. Don’t offer up any commentary on fault or responsibility. In general, the less you say, the better.
The relationship between insurers and their policyholders over maintenance disputes is a sort of grey area. This is especially true when it comes to water claims. In the case of most policies, property owners have no contractual duty to make any specific home repairs. Most only require that property owners only “take steps to protect their property in the event of a loss to covered property.” But in some cases, the insurer can prove that a policyholder knew about, and ignored, a potential problem, thus legitimately denying their claim.
To make sure this does not happen to you, it is important to Make sure you have suffered a loss that is covered by your policy before you file a claim. If you aren’t sure, re-read your policy language closely or contact your state insurance department for guidance. Otherwise, don’t get your insurer involved. Don’t go out of your way to report damage or deterioration that isn’t covered. Remember, most phone calls and emails to insurance agents and adjusters are recorded and monitored. A simple mistake over the phone about the condition of your property could potentially cause a future claim denial. It may also cause your premium to increase upon renewal.
If you have already told your insurer that your property needs repairs – make them! Once word gets out about a home maintenance issue, the probability that your claim will get denied is much greater. Don’t wait for the insurance company to pay out before you start your repairs. When it comes to things like water damage, time is not on your side. Get your repairs done quickly and correctly and don’t count on the insurance company to cover you. Remember, despite all of their clever marketing, the last thing an insurance company wants to do is actually cover their policy-holders. Make sure you protect yourself and your home from your insurer.
An even better option would be to contact someone who has years of experience in dealing with insurance companies. If you think you may have a property insurance claim, and want to speak to a professional at The Mineo Salcedo Law Firm, The Property Claim Lawyers for a free consultation and a home inspection today. 954-463-8100.