Understanding Your Property Insurance Coverage When you Have a Claim - A Simple Review Tool
The first thing many homeowners do when they experience a property loss is to dust off their insurance policy to see if they are covered. Quickly, they realize the complicated language property insurance policies can contain. It’s important to understand that the dynamics of a property loss are inseparable from the policy language when determining coverage. Even professionals can find interpreting policy language challenging.
A conversation with a commercial insurance agent a few weeks ago got me thinking about how disadvantaged lay property owners are following a loss or for that matter reviewing and trying to understand their coverage to make sure they are adequately covered for the risks they may face in the future. This commercial agent, a gentleman with many years of commercial insurance experience had the misfortune of having his own loss and, as is too often the case, the facts of his loss and the insurance coverage were to put it mildly, a sticky mess.
The agent, after getting nowhere with his claim, turned to me for my help. In credit to him, he told me that he “only sells the insurance and has no training as an adjuster.” Fair enough and I appreciated his candor as I suspect most of the general public and many in the insurance profession do not know the distinction between the two professional disciplines, one a sales agent and the other as adjuster. The latter must sort through the facts of the loss and then apply the policy terms and conditions in order to adjust the claim.
But what can a layperson who is trying to understand an insurance policy do to help educate them? First, you need to know there are many different types of insurance property forms in the marketplace. There are all risk policies, some with limited peril coverage, others that may be manuscript forms, and the list goes on and on. But regardless of your policy form, there is generally a method that can be applied to help you read and understand insurance policies if you know how to get started.
So I wanted to share this insurance policy review checklist I recently read about in the Insurance Journal that may help readers more thoroughly review their policy. This is one of the best-simplified tools I have seen that helps address a very complicated process. The author provides some basic steps to put you on your way to hopefully understand how a policy is structured and where you can look for answers to some of the questions you may have on: who’s covered; what’s covered; as well as what exclusions, limitations and exceptions may apply. But remember, not all policies are written alike. For example; a HO-3 all-risk homeowners form may be structured in various forms by companies licensed to sell the insurance policy in the state where you reside.
Finally, as you review your property policy, keep in mind that you still have to apply the facts of your loss to the policy’s conditions and terms. That’s where a good public adjuster comes in.
As to the sticky mess the commercial agent found himself in? Well, that turned into a welcome celebration when the checks arrived to pay for his family’s loss. If you have questions regarding any property insurance claim related issues please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster or insurance claim experts.