What, when and who to call.
A 2019 study found that only 11 percent of homeowners filed a claim in the last 15 years. Sounds low, right? A common rule of thumb is to only file a claim if the loss exceeds your deductible. Even so, many policyholders hold off on filing a claim, fearing their rates will go up. But there are times when it’s worth a call to your broker to preserve your rights.
When to make an insurance claim
When should you file an auto insurance claim if you’ve been hit?
Say, for example, your car was hit while parked and you don’t yet have a repair estimate so you don’t know whether you’ll pay repairs out of pocket or file a claim. It’s still worth advising your broker to put the incident on record while you’re waiting for the estimate. If the repairs are not costly, you can call and let them know you won’t be filing a claim.
Should you file a claim if you hit someone with your car? Even if they’re “fine”
Another scenario that carries more pitfalls is if you accidentally hit a walker or bicyclist while you’re driving. They get up and shake it off, say they’re fine and walk away, and never contact you even though you traded information. So you don’t think to let your broker or carrier know. Then a few weeks later, they’re having headaches, go to the hospital, and they come after you for damages. Your insurance company may deny the claim and may not defend you if you didn’t put the incident on record in a timely manner.
Should you tell your broker about a possible claim regardless?
For any incident, if there is any possibility of a claim no matter how small or big, it’s important to let your broker or agent know so they can guide you. Tell them what happened and they can report it to your carrier for record purposes only. Then if a claim pops up down the line, you’ve already made the call and preserved your rights. For record purposes only is commonly used when you’re not sure there will be a claim, but an event occurred that you want documented in case something comes up down the line.
In a liability situation like this – that’s the coverage that kicks in to protect you in case of bodily injury or property damage to others – it’s not cut and dry that every claim will be covered just because you have insurance protection. Every policy has conditions and exclusions that apply, and every claim has to be investigated to determine what caused the loss and if there is coverage afforded under your policy for that type of event. If you’ve called your broker up front to explain the situation, you’re one step ahead of the game.
Should you make a homeowners insurance claim about a leak?
Let’s look at another recent case involving homeowner’s insurance. A woman called us and said their upstairs neighbor had a water leak which damaged her ceiling. The neighbor said they would reimburse her for damages, so no need to put in a claim. We put a notation in her file, advised her to keep receipts and photos for everything that happened, and to notify her super in case there are greater issues down the road with mold exposure or if things don’t get dried out properly. Then we followed up a few weeks later to find out if the problem was resolved and the neighbors reimbursed her, or if we needed to submit the claim to the insurance carrier. It turns out she had contacted a contractor and they determined there was greater damage underneath the walls than first presumed. At that point, we advised her it was time to file a claim to protect her rights and ensure she would be reimbursed for the full damages. This homeowner made all the right calls.
Our best advice – it’s always a good idea to discuss any claim scenario with your agent or broker so we can guide you in the right direction. Our experience and knowledge can protect you and help you get a claim covered if something happens. It’s our responsibility to tell you what your options are so we can make the right decision together whether something is worth reporting. Depending on the circumstance, there may be a deadline to report a certain claim. In liability-related situations, it’s especially important to report an incident quickly.
When you have a broker or agent, you have an advocate.