THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2012
If you now have the proper type and amount of insurance in place, you should be in good shape if you ever experience a mishap that is covered by your policy. But before you even file an insurance claim, let’s run through the basic things you should do so that you're properly prepared, just in case.
One of the most important things you can do is to catalog what you have and own in your property. When you make an insurance claim, you're going to negotiate with the insurer on how much you are to be paid for your losses. And while your insurer is very experienced at doing that, you’re probably not when it comes to negotiating an insurance claim. To ensure that you get the most you can for your claim, remember that the more proof and evidence you have to support the dollar amount tyou're claiming as a loss, the higher your chances are of resolving the amount to your satisfaction.
For example, if your home, apartment or condo is destroyed by fire and you have a list of all the electronic equipment, iPads, TVs, computers, etc. that you have, that is good proof that you owned the items and have incurred a loss. And if you have the receipts for those items, that is even more support for your claim. As an alternative option to keeping receipts, you may be able to find the purchases on your credit card statements to put together evidence for the insurer. Pictures are also important, and it’s easier than ever to snap pictures and email them to yourself to keep in a file online. Remember, storing this information online or at least off premises is better because your computer might get destroyed in the fire. To best prepare yourself for filing an insurance claim, take an hour to snap some pictures, catalog your items, and email it off to yourself for storage in cyberspace! In addition, once you do catalog the items, you'll also want to assign values to each article of personal property that you own.
But when should you actually make a claim on your policy? In general, you should not make claims for smaller dollar amount issues, like if only your television or computer was stolen or damaged in a policy-covered incident. Insurance is for when you have major losses that would disrupt your life and livelihood. So when it comes to determining when you should file a claim and when you should just stick it out, it really depends on how much you have in losses. As a general rule, though, if your loss only adds up to a few hundred dollars, you shouldn’t file a claim.
The reason you don’t want to file a small claim is because insurance companies don’t like to provide coverage to individuals who make small, repeated, or questionable claims. If an individual exhibits any of those behaviors over time, their policy premiums may go up and/or their policy could be cancelled. And other carriers will know about your claims history, so just thinking you will make a bunch of claims and switch carriers may not solve the problem that you’ve created for yourself. Your history will follow you long into your future.
On the other hand, if the losses are substantial, that’s the time to file a claim. The whole purpose of insurance is to step in when things go really wrong. You’ll find most insurance agents are very helpful and just want to get a fair resolution to all parties on real, valid, and substantial claims.
Lastly, consider your deductible before making a claim, even if it does seem like a large amount at first. If you choose a high deductible, like $1,000, and your loss is $1,200, you will only get $200 for your claim because you cover the first $1,000 yourself. In that case, it probably doesn’t make sense to make a claim because your losses are small. You could have originally selected (or change you policy deductible now) a smaller deductible, like $250, but you will find your policy premiums are much higher as a result of having a low deductible. That is the tradeoff — lower deductibles tend to mean higher annual premiums.
To sum it up, make sure you have a good listing of your valuables, clothing, electronics, etc. because it'll be a big help when you negotiate with the carrier over your claim. And as noted, don’t make small or repeated claims, or you’ll find yourself having a tough time getting insurance down the road.
If you have questions about making a claim, call the professionals at Insurance Planning Service today at 800-220-5582 or use our online contact form.
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