Q. Do I have enough coverage?
A. If you are unsure if you have enough home insurance coverage, review your policy limits under the Declarations page. You should see categories such as Dwelling, Personal Property, Private Structures, and Additional Living Expenses. Ideally, your Dwelling coverage should be approximately 210% of the value of your home. Your Personal Property coverage should be around 80% of the Dwelling coverage amount. If you have owned your home for awhile, these numbers may not accurately reflect its value. Although these amounts are adjusted for inflation at a rate of about 4% per year (the exact figure will be listed in your policy), it is important to keep in mind that house values do fluctuate from time to time. If you are unsatisfied with the amount of coverage in your policy, you should contact your insurance agent or company and discuss increasing the amount of coverage to reflect your home’s true value.
Q. Am I covered for any disaster?
A. The types of coverage you have are listed on your insurance policy. While it is unlikely that you are covered for any disaster that could possibly occur, most insurance policies have a wide-reach as to the types of peril that are covered. For more information on the types of coverage you have, review your policy binder. This is a book-like detail of all of the stipulations of your coverage. It is likely that you do not have this in your possession, as most times only a few page preview is supplied. Your real estate lawyer may have one on file, or it can be similarly obtained directly from your insurance broker or company. Under the “Insured Perils” section of your policy you will find all of the disasters and causes of loss for which you are actually covered. Click here for more information on insured perils.
Q. Do I have to sign the forms the insurance adjuster gives me?
A. You are not required to sign any forms that an insurance adjuster gives you in your meeting. You may feel an urge to be forthcoming about all the details of your claim, however, remember that the independent insurance adjuster is employed by the inurer to deal with the claim on their behalf. It is always advisable to garner legal advice before signing any documents an individual may provide you. In this case, consulting a lawyer that specializes in Property Law or Casualty Insurance is highly recommended before proceeding further.
Q. The independent adjuster is writing my personal statement for me. Should I sign this?
A. The simple answer is no. In any claim, as in life, it is better to be safe than sorry. In this case, the adjuster is most likely more knowledgeable than you about the intricacies of policy handling and insurance investigations. Therefore, it is possible that structuring your personal statement of the events or including certain facts in particular order may actually work against you. When you sign a statement, it is in effect an agreement that you believe what you are saying to be true. The person handling your claim may (like in my case) write a hand-written account of the events and facts about the residence and expect you to sign it. If you do not agree to sign the other forms (which are usually presented first), he/she may state they will type it up and deliver it to you for your signage. We would recommend that you alternatively request the independent adjusting firm to provide you with a list of questions for which they would like answers. Then, in your own time and with a clear head, you can write things from your own unique perspective. Remember, if they decide not to pay out, and a legal battle ensues, this statement (not written by you!) would be submissible at a trial. We recommend you avoid this and limit the false leverage they may wish to gain.