Insurance policies are akin to a complex piece of machinery. Every element of the policy and all of the contracts therein work as a system; when one part of the machine falls out of place or breaks, the entire system falls to pieces or simply stops working altogether. With homeowners insurance, this is especially true, since many houses are different from one another and each one requires different rules and regulations.
That’s why you should probably read this guide before buying any homeowners insurance or filing any claims on your homeowner’s insurance policy. We’re going to give you some advice to bring you to the level you need to be at before you make a serious investment.
When Filing a Claim, Use an Independent Public Adjuster
Emphasis on “public” and “independent.” You want a claims adjuster that is working for you and not the insurance company. The company’s claims adjuster may seem to give great customer service and be extremely friendly, but they have a purpose: To save money on claims compensation for the insurance company. Those two things will definitely clash at one point or another, so let an independent public claims adjuster from AAA Public Adjusters fight for your compensation. We’ve done it thousands of times in the past and we will be here for you in the future. If you’re looking to buy insurance and not make a claim…
Always Look For an Independent Insurance Broker
Again, the word to pay attention to is “independent.” Independent insurance brokers will offer you policies from a broad range of companies, so that you get the best policy possible. They are working for you and will do whatever it takes to keep you satisfied. Insurance brokers are contracted by some insurance companies to bring them clientele. Ask one of our experts at AAA Public Adjusters if you’re looking to purchase homeowner’s insurance, and maybe we can point you in the right direction. Independent brokers will take the time to figure out your exact needs and work around your budget, just like we do for all of our clientele, and we recommend you opt for that when searching for a policy.
Don’t Be Afraid to Compete
When you’re buying insurance, never be afraid to shop. You will definitely receive an initial quote from an insurance company. Regardless of the result, don’t be afraid to look for a better number. If they really want your business, they will work within your budget, and it’s your right as a buyer to go out and find the best, most competitive rates and highest-quality policies possible. Don’t let a multi-million dollar insurance company stifle that right.
Don’t be afraid to fight for your claim, either. If your insurance company is telling you that a certain part of your property isn’t covered under your policy, you should be asking to see the exact section in your contract where it is written and stated. If you reach a stalemate with your insurance company, you may want to consider independent public adjusters, such as ours. If your insurance salesperson or claims adjuster has misled you into financial folly or a serious investment in your time, contact a lawyer that specializes in insurance and contract law immediately and get the justice you deserve, period.
When it Comes to Claims, Size Does Matter
To insurance companies at least. You may not feel that way, but they do not treat all claims equally. In fact, a recent study by Consumer Reports found that 18% of policyholders making claims exceeding $30,000 were dissatisfied with their compensation, while only seven percent of policyholders making claims under $30,000 were disappointed.
In a nutshell, what this means is that when it claims, it pours. When you have a larger claim, expect larger headaches. When you have a smaller claim, it’s important to be well-informed, but the chances of an insurance company trying to pull one over on you are significantly less.
Learn and Know Your Insurance Policy
Namely, we’re talking about deductibles. For those of you who are new to this, let us tell you. “Deductibles” refer to the amount of money you must pay when you process any claim related to your insurance policy. For example, you may get a window broken during mischief night. The window is worth $2,000 but you pay a deductible of $500 to your insurance company, and they arrange for it to be fixed, working with you. These deductibles can vary greatly depending on the type and severity of damage.
Deductibles are extremely important to pay attention to. Some insurance policies have special deductibles specifically intended for claims against large-scale natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hailstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Some insurers will try to make a deductible a certain percentage of the entire value of your property, which can turn out to be quite a large amount of money, and make it pointless to claim many damages occurring to a house—what good is an insurance policy you can never use?
You should also pay close attention to the language being used in the contracts. Many claims adjusters and lawyers call it “contract language.” Sometimes, contract language is too specific. For example, there may be an overflow from a faulty sump pump that is not covered because you did not purchase a sump pump endorsement, or fire insurance that doesn’t cover smoke that started outside of your house. There are many strange loopholes like this written into contracts, so be very careful and have a professional look over your insurance contract before signing—we can’t stress this enough.
Save Money on Homeowners Insurance with These Tips
1) Start by acting on whatever your insurance company actively gives out discounts for. This varies between companies. However, it usually includes things like smoke detectors, burglar alarms, sufficient locks, strong doors and windows, sprinkler systems and first-responder alarms.
2) Use strong, resistant materials. Fire and impact resistant roofing materials can often fetch a discount on homeowners insurance, as it provides an extra layer of protection against fire, debris and weather.
3) If you’re in an area that frequently gets hurricanes, prepare for it. Storm-shuttered windows, retractable awnings and code-compliant roofing will all contribute to savings on homeowners insurance in these areas. Proper roofing protection can guard a roof against a Category 4 hurricane.
4) If you’re at risk of earthquakes, make sure your home has been properly constructed and is well bolted to the foundation.
5) Fires are at the root of the majority of homeowners’ insurance claims. Make sure your kitchen is clear of fire hazards, and please get a fire extinguisher for both you and your wallet’s safety—the average fire claim runs over $25,000.
We hope that this clears up some of the confusion around buying homeowners insurance and processing claims on your homeowners’ insurance policy. Please reach us today with any of your problems, nationwide at 800.410.5054. We provide emergency service day and night, and complimentary consultations when you need them. Trust us at AAA Public Adjusters to point you in the right direction.