Whether you rent or own your home, your insurance policy, in the Conditions section, lists your duties after a loss. Should you fail to comply with the duties which follow, your insurance company could deny you coverage.
- You must immediately notify your Broker, Agent, or your insurance company's claims department of how, when and where the loss happened. Make sure to include the names, addresses and contact information of any witnesses and other injured parties.
- Notify the local authorities.
- You must protect the property from further loss or damage. This is where many people endanger their full indemnification after a covered loss. For example, if your roof has suffered damage, take as many photos as possible. Then, make reasonable and necessary repairs to prevent further damage. When this is done, take more pictures.
- Keep an accurate record of the expenses you incur to protect the property from further damage.
- If your home suffered water damage when the roof was compromised, make an inventory of the damaged property before you toss things out on the sidewalk, for example. Your inventory should include a description of each item, and it's cost. Again, take as many pictures as possible to prove your loss. Original receipts, and/or instruction manuals, are a terrific source of proof of ownership. I always tell my clients to prepare a complete Personal Home Inventory using a Travelers Insurance brochure as a guide. Your work at preparing a claim will go a lot faster and easier when you already have a prepared inventory.
- If your policy includes coverage for additional living expenses (and if it doesn't, go out today and buy a policy with this important coverage), you must again keep accurate records of your expenses for housing, food, and transportation.
- Remember, you will be required to sign a sworn statement about all of the damages and costs you've incurred. Don't listen to anyone who tells you to inflate your loss and expense amounts. These are considered acts of fraud, and your company could refuse to provide coverage for any insured engaged in these acts.
Suffering a loss is tough, but you can make your recovery easier by following these tips.
Eustace L. Greaves Jr., LUTCF is a New York State licensed independent insurance agent and broker. To obtain a copy of the Personal Home Inventory Brochure, send Eustace an email to email@example.com. Or, stop by his office at 651 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11238, for a hard copy. Just give him a call at 718-783-2722 so he can tidy up the office before you stop by.