Filing a claim after a loss is the right of every policyholder. If you have incurred a loss it the responsibility of the insurance carrier to evaluate the loss and pay for repairs if the policy allows coverage and damage exceeds deductibles. Often times we here potential or new clients state that insurance carriers try to avoid paying out claims. Lets be clear, the insurance industry is highly regulated and insurance companies are mandated in paying out for losses when the policy affords coverage. What we typically find is that clients that feel this way have filed claims on losses that the policy did not cover or they were not aware that the damage was less than their policy deductible. Here are some good rules to go by to help you feel the value of your insurance policy:
1) Contact your insurance agent first - This should be your first call unless it is a clear emergency at which time you should contact the proper authorities. If the loss is not an immediate emergency, you should contact your local agent (Not the carrier's claim department) and speak with your agent about the best course of action. Your agent is the first line of information and they can best advise you on how and when a claim should be filed. If you do not have an agent then you will need to call your carriers customer service department.
2) Know your deductible - Your policy's deductible is the amount that you are responsible for paying should a claim be filed. Typically on an auto policy it is $500 or on a home policy it is $1000. Deductibles can vary depending on what you have chosen with you agent or insurance carrier.
3) Get an estimate for repairs - You can be proactive and obtain an estimate for repairs before calling into your carrier's claim department. This will ensure that you have some information to help determine if the repairs are under or over the cost of your deductible. Please note that your carrier will have to approve any estimate that you file with your claim and will have final say on what your policy will cover. However having an estimate beforehand is just additional information to help you in determining to file a claim.
By utilizing these above steps, you should have enough information to help determine if filing a claim would be worth it. One thing my agency suggests is that if your repair cost is at least twice as much as your deductible, then it would be beneficial to the client to file the claim. Please know that you have EVERY right to file EVERY claim regardless of the carrier's potential payout.
*The information on the post is designed to help our readers determine when the best time to file a claim. Filing a claim will and should always be up to the insured's final decision.*