You may question if you need renters insurance. Cost may be a factor, along with the variety of companies willing to sell you a policy. You're not required by law to have a renters insurance policy, but your property manager might demand it as one of the terms of your lease.
And following the claims process can make the recovery period faster and easier. You just have to know what to do.
When property gets damaged or stolen, you file a claim, right? It's not always so simple. “There are serious risks to filing certain claims, or to filing too many claims," says Kevin Mercadante writing for moneyunder30.com.
Insurance companies expect claims to come in only occasionally, about once every 10 years. That's a pretty wide margin, and sometimes, you can't avoid making more than one claim per decade.
The trick is to verify if a claim is worth making once a situation occurs. You should review your policy to be sure you have coverage. Then, think about the cost of replacing or repairing the item against your deductible. The best scenarios for making a renters insurance claim include:
If the situation isn't covered and or is affordable, consider handling it yourself. Additionally, don't make a claim if the situation is your fault. While insurance may still cover it, these claims can change how you're perceived by your insurance company. They may now see you as a risk that's not worth insuring.
Filing too many claims can lead to a significant rise in the premium or even having your policy canceled.
Once you've established your claim is worth making, it's time to begin the process. Many insurance companies have a deadline to submit a claim once an incident occurs. This deadline can be as short as two days and usually ranges between 48-72 hours. You'll need to contact your insurance company within this time frame to start the process. Before you get to that point, you should:
You should also check out your insurance company's website before calling. There should be information on the claims process and links to any relevant forms. Your agent should also share this information with you, as well.
When you call the insurance company, have all the documentation and details from the incident available to reference. Also, have your policy number handy and the best way to reach you for follow-up. Being easy to reach throughout the process will make things move that much faster.
Also, be honest when you communicate. The insurance company wants you to get fair compensation, so don't feel you have to lie. Lying to an insurance company is an actual crime and could get you charged with insurance fraud.
Most of the process is the same between the two types of claims. Same as with property claims, you should contact proper authorities, document everything and talk with witnesses.
The big difference in this situation is the claim won't come from you. The injured party makes the claim, so be sure you give your policy number to them. Your insurance company will most likely contact you about the incident.
Share the evidence you collect with your insurance company if they ask. It will make sure the claim is only for relevant injuries.
The great thing about filing a claim is that nobody wants the process to take a long time. As long as you're able to provide plenty of detail and evidence around the situation and remain responsive, things should wrap up fast.
One way to make the work on your end easier is to take a personal inventory of your apartment. Create the list while everything is there and in working order for a complete inventory.
Include purchase price and when bought if possible. This serves as an easy reference should you have to file a renters insurance claim. Appraising expensive items like jewelry also provides added documentation. You can also ask your insurance company if they itemize high-end items.
Don't forget to keep all damaged items until you complete the claims process. This can help speed things up, as well. If your claim is big enough, an insurance adjuster can come to your house for an on-location evaluation. Seeing damaged items in person will help them verify your claim. Even with detailed pictures or video, the real thing improves the review. With an in-person inspection, a claims adjuster may even write you a check on the spot.
The claims process concludes with either an approval or denial. There's no payout from your insurance company for a denied claim. If your claim gets verified and approved, you'll receive compensation in one of two ways. Your policy details how the insurance company determines compensation.
This payment structure allows you to buy a new item to replace the old at the current market cost. Use and general depreciation is not taken into account. The insurance company bases the value of your loss on the expense of replacing what you had before.
Depreciation is in play here, which can lessen the compensation you receive. You might not get enough to replace the damaged or stolen items. This happens often with furniture and electronics. You might want to consider changing your policy if this is your compensation type.
In the moment of property damage, loss or even seeing an injury take place in your home isn't always the calmest time. Thinking through the right steps to take to file a renters insurance claim may not easily come to mind. Download our checklist to stay on top of how to prepare and file a claim.
Insurance companies want to process your claim as quickly as possible. The more responsive and cooperative you are, the faster you'll know if compensation is coming your way.
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