If you make a small nick in your car door, do you call your insurance agent or just get some elbow grease to buff it back in shape? The same goes for your homeowners insurance. Knowing when not to file a claim for a small incident in your home could make the difference between keeping your premium low or having surcharges added to your renewal, or worse, having your homeowners policy cancelled.
Limit the Number of Insurance Claims
Your home insurance policy is there to protect you in the event home damage. At the same time, frequent claims on your homeowners policy will raise a red flag. Using the same common sense as you would with your auto insurance will help you pick your battles.
- Your Deductible. Get an assessment of the damage to your home. If the cost is less than your deductible, or even a few hundred dollars more, paying out-of-pocket may be the smart way to go. The cost could end up being less than the amount you'll pay for a premium increase.
- Your Home Insurance Score. Even if you choose not to file a claim, a call to your insurance agent could still cause problems. The conversation could result in a report to the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE), a database maintained by insurance service company, ChoicePoint. If and when you change insurance companies, this post to your Home Insurance Score could come back to haunt you.
- It's a Numbers Game. There is some good news. If you need to submit your first claim on your homeowners policy, more than likely, it will not affect your premium. The second claim, especially within the same year, could cause problems. It comes down to the length of time between claims and how long you've had a policy with your insurance company. That will determine a potential increase in premium costs or a cancellation.
- Forces of Nature. It's standard practice for insurance companies to forgive claims in the event of damage caused entirely by an Act of God, or forces of nature. If you come home after a huge wind storm and find a tree has planted itself through your roof, you can breath a little easier knowing you're covered and will not incur issues with your homeowners insurance.
- Taking Responsibility. On the other hand, if you allow a tree to become deteriorated by termites and it falls through your roof, that claim may be questioned and possibly denied by your insurance company because of negligence. Or, if you submit a claim for water damage due to faulty plumbing, but take no steps to prevent further water damage, an additional claim could be denied. Maintaining your home and taking precautions to prevent such instances will help you to avoid unnecessary damage to your home, and the need for multiple insurance claims.
Homeowners Insurance Policies Can Deny Your Claims
Some claims may not be recognized by the insurance company for any number of reasons:
- If premiums have not been paid in full, the policy itself may not be active.
- Another insurance company may have already agreed to pay for the damages listed in the claim.
- If you fail to keep your house maintained properly. Typical policies don't cover termites, or mold damage
- A failure to fall under covered conditions. Flood insurance and earthquake damage is generally not covered.
Most insurance policies spell out specific areas which qualify for benefits. If the accident or damage claim was caused by carelessness or negligence the insurance company has the right to withhold payments.
See how much you could save today on your home insurance. Get your free home insurance quotes today!