7 Most Common Mistakes That Keep Your Home Insurance From Paying Out
The whole reason you have homeowners insurance is so you can file a claim when your home gets damaged. In extreme cases, this can help you build a new home after major damage, all without you having to break the bank.
However, it’s easy to make home insurance mistakes that keep your claim from paying out. Want to make sure you get an insurance payout when you need it the most? Keep reading to discover the most common filing mistakes and how to avoid them!
1. Waiting Too Long to File Your Claim
Waiting too long to file your claim is the most common mistake on this list. In most cases, the sooner you file the sooner you’ll receive help. It’s a good rule of thumb to file within one year, in any case.
When something catastrophic happens to your home and it becomes uninhabitable, you’ll probably remember to file quickly. But if the damage isn’t impeding your ability to shelter, it may be easier to put off filing that claim.
If you wait too long to file, your insurer can simply refuse to pay because of the delay. This leaves you with the worst of both worlds: major damage to your house and nobody to help you pay for it!
2. Not Checking the Fine Print of Your Policy
Quick question: What are the homeowners insurance exclusions on your current policy? If you’re not sure what they are, or even what an exclusion means, then it’s important to read your policy from top to bottom.
These exclusions define the exact circumstances in which the insurance won’t pay out. Some circumstances are obvious, such as most policies won’t pay for flood damage unless you have purchased a separate rider. Some are more surprising, though. For example, your carrier probably won’t pay out if you discover rot or mold, and they may not provide any liability coverage for your dog biting someone if the dog belongs to certain breeds the carrier considers dangerous.
Unless you read and fully understand all the fine print of your policy, you risk not getting paid by your insurance company.
3. Not Documenting Enough Evidence
Here’s something many homeowners don’t realize: If you want a payout suitable to the damage experienced, you will need to convince the insurance carrier of just how bad the damage is to your home.
The best way to do this is to thoroughly document the damage as soon as you can. That means taking several photos and videos that show the extent of the damage, giving you all the home insurance documentation you’ll need. You’ll also need an up-to-date personal inventory to give your claim the best odds of being accepted.
4. Failure to Keep an Up-to-Date Personal Inventory
We count on homeowners insurance to pay for valuable items that may get damaged or even stolen from our homes. However, unless you maintain an up-to-date personal inventory of your valuable possessions, you may have trouble either filing a claim or getting the full value for your items.
At least once per year, take pictures of your most expensive possessions and create an inventory of them. If the items are very valuable, make sure you have them professionally appraised. That way, if the items get damaged or stolen, you have ample documentation proving they weren’t damaged before, and you’ll even have third-party proof of how valuable the items are, maximizing your chances of getting a full payout. Just remember that you may need separate coverage for your most expensive possessions.
5. Cleaning Things Up Too Quickly
Here’s a filing mistake that often catches homeowners by surprise. Did you know that cleaning up the damage to your home too quickly can reduce the odds of the claim paying out?
Even if you have all the photographic and video documentation in the world to back up your claims, your carrier will send its own adjuster out to inspect the damage. If you clean up too much of the physical evidence of property damage, the inspector might not think the home was hit very hard, which will either reduce how much they will pay out or even keep the policy from paying anything out.
6. Not Mitigating Damage Where You Can
Here’s where homeowners easily get tripped up: As we covered, you can reduce the odds of your claim paying out if you clean things up too quickly before an adjuster comes out to inspect the home. But if you don’t make temporary repairs as needed, your carrier may not pay anything out because they’ll argue that you failed to mitigate the damage.
How does this work? Let’s say your home is damaged by a severe storm to the point of windows getting broken and doors getting damaged. Document the damage inside the home and leave everything mostly “as is,” but you’ll need to make temporary repairs to the windows and doors. Not only will this reduce the odds of dangerous mold growing in your home (something they wouldn’t pay for anyway), but it also helps show the carrier that you did your best to reduce or prevent the damage instead of sitting back and letting things get even worse until the adjuster arrives.
7. Neglecting Your Property
It may sound obvious, but if you are not performing routine maintenance and repairs when needed, you could see a claim denied. Here’s why. If your roof is not maintained and it begins to leak, your insurer can rightfully ask when you last had roof maintenance and repairs. If it was too long ago, that leaking may be attributed to your negligence. This is part of your due diligence as a homeowner.
Here’s another one. If your pipes leak and flood your kitchen, you may have your claim approved. But if you did some sketchy repairs on those pipes yourself – instead of paying a plumber – and your repairs led to the leak, you may have your claim denied.
Always use a professional for certain home repairs and be sure to keep up with normal maintenance.
Get the Best Homeowners Insurance Today!
Now you know the homeowners insurance mistakes to avoid so your claim pays out. But do you know where you can find the best rates and a carrier you can trust?
Here at InsureOne, we’re experts when it comes to keeping you and your home safe. To join the insurance family you can always trust, it’s easy to get a quote online. Alternatively, you can give us a quick call at 800-836-2240, or come into one of our nearby offices at your earliest convenience!