Having home insurance is a must, to protect your most valuable asset, your belongings and your financial future. While most people have home insurance coverage, many make costly errors when it comes to filing claims. Some of the most common home insurance claims mistakes are detailed below — along with some tips for avoiding these expensive errors.
Not understanding your policy
You should know what your policy covers, who your provider is and what your claims process is. Your policy is a long and wordy document, but it is a good idea to read it and understand what is covered.
Failing to get flood coverage: This is an incredibly costly error, and many homeowners don’t discover it until it is too late. Even though your home insurance policy covers “water” damage, it may not cover floods — you need a separate policy for that in most cases. If you live near water, in a storm-prone area or along the coast, you likely need a separate policy for flood damage just in case.
Not updating coverage
If you only looked at your homeowner’s coverage when you purchased your policy, it could be out of date. If you’re paying the bill, the coverage is still in place, but if your family has grown, you’ve made home improvements, purchased expensive items (that would be covered) or made other changes, then your coverage may not be as complete as it should. Unless you review your policy annually, you would only discover a problem after a damaging event, which is too late to add that new artwork, upgraded flooring, or expensive electronics.
Not keeping an inventory
You may be able to name the larger covered items in your home — the electronics, appliances, and other big-ticket things, but do you know their model numbers, value and other specifics? A full home inventory you update annually ensures that any upgrades are included and that you are reimbursed properly in the event of a loss. If the items in question have been destroyed, you may end up relying on your memory to list what you had. In a stressful time, this could result in a far lower claim amount than you are truly entitled to.
Failing to document damage
Extensive damage from a storm or fire could leave your home exposed to the elements – and you’ll naturally want to start cleaning and repairing the damage to your property. You should take photos and document damage before cleanup begins. Saying a tree limb fell on your roof is open to interpretation; images of that same tree in your living room after crashing through the roof clearly shows the issue and extent of the problem.
Familiarizing yourself with your policy, updating it as needed and keeping good records will all help you protect your home, your family and your belongings if you need to make a claim. Choosing the right policy for your needs and covering these details will ensure you are covered when you need it most.