Sunday, January 24, 2016

How to File An Insurance Claim

After paying insurance premiums year after year, there is nothing worse than having a claim denied. It’s easy to blame the insurance companies and  grumble about the way policy holders are treated. But one of the main reasons for problems in settling claims is that the policy holder has made mistakes either during the tenure of the policy or when making the claim. Whatever the type of policy or the insurance company, there are a few basic actions that the policy holder should take to minimize the possibility of claim settlement problems.

Keep The Insurance Company Informed

The stress of an accident or health issue can easily lead to postpone informing the insurer that you will be making  a claim. Informing them as soon as possible can make the settlement much easier. Your insurance company will normally provide you with the claim forms and assist you in filling them out. They may also pre-certify some medical procedures so you do not have coverage issues later on. They may also authorize medical procedures, hotel and ancillary care costs and other expenses so you know where you stand on expenses.

Be Organized

The stress of an accident or injury can throw life out of gear. It is tough but remaining organized can save you from the future insurance hassles.  Documentation is vital in this. For example, after a car accident, complete information about the other vehicles and people involved and of all the witnesses will make the processing of the claim much faster. Taking photographs or even videos to illustrate the extent of the damage is always a good idea. In the case of damage to a home, taking steps to prevent further damage like boarding up broken windows will help to establish the actual damage caused and reduce further repair expenses. Taking a detailed inventory of losses including the value, saves a lot of time in making the claim. Keep all the receipts for payments made for replacement and repair costs. This includes everything from hardware to labor, living costs and so on. Having complete records of the expenses you have had to meet will make the settlement process smoother.

Insurance Is For Protection, Not Maintenance

Avoid filing a large number of small home or auto insurance claims. If you do so, your insurance company may increase your rates or even refuse to renew your policies. A simple way to avoid the temptation of making small claims is to go in for high deductibles which will also reduce your insurance costs. In addition ensure that minor repairs are done in time. If a home is known to have a chronic problem of leaking taps that result in mold and water damage, this could cause problems when a claim is made for disaster related damage.

And of course, do not fall behind on your payments. Most companies have a grace period during which they will honor claims even of the payment on the policy has not been made. This is to cater to special circumstances, not to be used to extend the payment date. Putting off payments till the last minute is asking for trouble if the unexpected prevents you from making the payment as you planned.

Know What You Need To Do

You depend on your insurance to protect you and enable you to recover if the unexpected happens. A large part of this burden rests on the insurance companies and they do their best to meet their duties and obligations. As a policy holder it is your responsibility to ensure that your documentation is in order and that you follow the right steps when a claim has to be made. A lot of what you need to know will be contained in the policy document itself. If any issues are not covered or if you have doubts about any aspects of the policy or claim filing procedure, contact your insurance agent and ask for clarifications. At Allied Brokers we make it a point to not just provide our clients with the coverage they need. We provide them with the support they may require when a claim has to be made to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible and it is settled to the policy holder’s satisfaction. To learn more about what Allied Brokers can do for you, visit our website. You can call us at 1-888-505-7988 (toll free) or use the Contact Us page on the site to get all the additional information you may need.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Your Homeowners Insurance May Burn You

In California we live with wildfires and reluctantly accept them as a part of life. That is one of the reasons why fire coverage is taken as an integral part of homeowners’ insurance in many parts of the state. However, with the continuing drought and the widespread fires this year, getting coverage is going to become a lot more difficult. Insurance companies are starting to inform some policy holders that their policies will not be renewed on the grounds of “unacceptable risk of wildfire.”

No Protection From Non-Renewal In California

The drought and wildfire situation this year has become so bad that many insurers want to protect themselves from the high risk of costly claims, even if it means a short term loss of business. No commercial entity wants to losecustomers but when the risk of incurring losses is so high that the potential loss is greater than the income from policy sales, hard decisions have to be made. There are no laws in the state, as of now, that prohibit an insurance company from not renewing a homeowners insurance policy.  The State Insurance Commissioner recently stated that a large number of policy holders can expect to be dropped from fire coverage unless the situation take a major turn for the better.

A case in point is that of a homeowner whose house is surrounded by a concrete driveway, the wild grass is controlled and cut short and located about one mile from a fire station. For many, this will appear to be reasonably safe. He received a letter recently from his insurance company saying that this policy will not be renewed in view of the high wildfire risk. The number of people who are receiving these notices is growing steadily.

How Bad Is The Wildfire Problem?

The number tell it all. There are now over 32,000 firefighters at work in California and the Pacific Northwest, but this is not enough. Firefighting costs are already $700 million over appropriation and the U.S. Fire Service has till now had to transfer funds totaling over $250 million from other accounts to pay for the continuing battle against wildfires. These are the figures as of now. What the final cost will be is a matter of conjecture.

What Are The Options?

Agents, who are often caught between the requirement to act in accordance with insurance company policy and the needs of their clients are looking for ways to offer clients alternative coverage. One of the most common options is to place accounts with the non-admittedmarket. This trend has been growing rapidly over the last few years and the Surplus Line Association of California says that its estimates show that over 90% more homeowners policies were written in 2014 as compared to 2011. The wildfire issue is the driving factor in this growth spurt.

What Should You Do?
 
If you live in an area with a high wildfire risk, you could be one of those whose policies may not be renewed. Obviously, the grounds on which the non-renewal decision has been taken are the same ones that make coverage essential for you. The best thing you can do is to talk to an insurance professional about the situation you are in and work with him or her to find the best and most cost effective solution – it could be in the non-admitted market or with another insurance company that may be willing to cover the risk. In fact, it makes sense to anticipate the possibility of non-renewal and contact an insurance agent now, so that you are prepared to act to protect your home if your current policy is not renewed.