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InsuranceAfter an Accident Insurance ClaimsMake the insurance claims process easier by following these steps.Am I Covered? Car Insurance QuestionsAsk your insurance agent these questions. It helps to understand the types and extent of coverage you have. There are a lot, but you're paying a lot.Appealing an Insurance SettlementIf you have a difference of opinion on your insurance settlement, you can begin an appeal process, starting with your agent, moving to the claims adjuster at your insurance company, or your state's watchdog agency for insurance consumers. What's Your Insurance Score?Like a credit score used by banks, insurance scores rate your risk (how financially stable you are). Research has shown that people who are in better shape credit-wise tend to file less insurance claims. Working With a Claims AdjusterOnce you have notified your insurance company of your loss, you will meet with a claims or field adjuster employed by the company. If You Have No InsuranceIf you have no insurance (or less insurance coverage than you thought), your recovery will be based on your own resources and help from friends, relatives and your community. Estimating Your Home's ValueDo you have enough insurance on your home to rebuild it if it is destroyed? Do you even know how to calculate the amount of insurance you need? Key Insurance Terms Determining ValueKnowing these terms helps to understand the process insurance agencies and relief organizations use to determine the value of your loss. Your tax accountant can also help you when claiming your losses. Top Homeowners Insurance MythsHomeowner's insurance can be a bit complicated. William S. Coffman, Jr., WHN's Guest Columnist, provides some common myths about insurance and insights into the realities of insurance and the claims process.Property Damage Questions for Your AgentThese are some questions to ask your insurance agent. These may confirm what you already know or may help you understand the extent and specifics of your coverage.Insurance Riders Do I Need One?You pay your homeowners premiums on time and feel reasonably comfortable that you are well covered should disaster ever strike, right? Wrong. Even if you think you have adequate coverage, you could be drastically underinsured.Life Insurance and Healthcare CostsIf you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may have already discovered that dealing with actual health issues is just part of the individual puzzle you must reassess and reassemble. Am I Covered? Home Insurance QuestionsThe more you know and understand about home insurance, the better you can insure yourself and your family in case of loss. Am I Covered? Life Insurance QuestionsHere is a 'starter' list of things to consider and questions to ask your agent. You'll probably come up with questions or ideas that best fit your needs. Choosing a Life Insurance BeneficiaryIf you own assets, from bank accounts to life insurance, it's important that you choose a beneficiary. Filing an Insurance ClaimA few tips on how to file a claim after a natural disaster, fire or theft. Motorcycle InsuranceThe more you know and understand about motorcycle insurance, accident coverage, and your own policy, the better off you are. Pet InsurancePet insurance is similar to health insurance: you may be reimbursed if the unexpected occurs. Property Damage What to Expect from Your AgentHere is a list of actions an insurance agent may follow after a claim. If you receive money from your agent or arrangements are being made for you, be sure to ask your agent what is covered under your policy and how much you are covered for. Reviewing and Updating Your Homeowner's InsuranceWhen was the last time you reviewed your home insurance policy? According to Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, there are six events that should trigger a review.Flood InsuranceOne of the most important things that you can do to protect your home and family before a flood is to purchase a flood insurance policy - even if you don't live in a flood-prone area. Earthquake Insurance ResourcesUseful links to information about disaster-related insurance resources.

Insurance Riders: Do I Need One?

You pay your homeowners premiums on time and feel reasonably comfortable that you are well covered should disaster ever strike, right? Wrong. Even if you think you have adequate coverage, you could be drastically underinsured.

Stephen Hadhazi, our guest insurance blogger, public insurance adjuster, and publisher of DocuDamage.com, provides information that everyone should know. The typical homeowner's insurance policy includes the basics that most people need and places limits on the coverage, according to Hadhazi. The basic policy offered should be considered a starting point, not the final solution.

Endorsements (or riders) are important (but often overlooked) tools that modify the insurance policy to better meet your insurance needs. They don't usually add a significant amount to your premium and most are put into effect immediately though this will vary from company to company.

Structural Limits

Many bare bones policies don't cover water damage from burst pipes, [but] policyholders don't find out until they file a claim.

Most policies cover water damage from windstorms such as when the wind blows out a window and the rain gets in. However, if you live in a hurricane or tornado-prone area, you might need to purchase windstorm coverage or pay extremely high "hurricane deductibles," which average 2% of the value of the home but can be as high as 5%. At an average home value of $200,000, this equates to $4,000 to $10,000 right off the top of any damages you incur. In effect, the cost of your roof has been deducted.

Floods and earthquakes are excluded from standard policies.
This could even include flooding during a hurricane if it's not wind-related. In the Katrina disaster, many engineering firms were caught changing their reports to reflect the cause of loss to be from Flood rather than Wind, which is what the insurance companies needed to be able to justify the denial of millions of dollars in property damage claims.

Another potential problem with your coverage involves the cost of rebuilding.
Do you have enough insurance to cover the cost to completely rebuild your home using current construction costs? If your home is older, you may be forced to upgrade to current building codes which can be cost-prohibitive.

Endorsements to consider:

Earthquake insurance usually covers earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. (See Earthquake Insurance Resources for more information.)

Flood insurance provides year-round financial protection. (See Flood Insurance for more details.)

Inflation guard - ensures that your policy keeps up with inflation including building costs

Law and code enforcement - pays to get your house up to current code during rebuilding

Mold rider

Sewer backup [WHN page link TK]

Personal Property Limits

The contents of your home are generally insured for 50% to 75% of the total dwelling limits. If you carry $100,000 of insurance on your home, you may have personal property coverage of $50,000 to $75,000 depending on your policy's provisions. Is it enough?

Further, depending on the type of replacement coverage you carry, the contents of your home could be dramatically underinsured. There is a huge difference between Replacement Cost Value endorsement, which will replace your possessions with brand-new, like-kind items and Actual Cash Value, which depreciates the possessions and pays only a fraction of their original cost.

In many cases, however, the term Replacement Cost Value reimbursement can be a slight misnomer, both on personal property and structural claims. Nationally, many Replacement Cost Policies state that they will pay only the Actual Cash Value until such time replacement has been completed and you send them proof of the replacement.

Under such circumstances, you should also be aware that reimbursement of the full depreciated amount is also contingent on you spending at least the amount of the replacement cost amount allowed by your insurance company.

For example, you filed a claim for damage to a five-year-old sofa and your insurance company allowed a Replacement Cost Value (RCV) of $2000. You agree that the average useful life expectancy of the sofa would be ten years. The adjuster then depreciates the sofa at the rate of 50% leaving you an Actual Cash Value (ACV) of $1000.

The adjuster then writes you a check for $1000 and then tells you that you have a certain amount of time, usually 6-12 months, to replace the sofa and file for reimbursement of the $1000 they held back in depreciation under the Replacement Cost benefits of your policy. You then find a suitable replacement couch on sale for $1,500.

You eagerly send in your receipt to your insurance company expecting to receive the $1000 they held back in depreciation. However, you're also limited by what you actually spent for replacement so instead you get a check from your insurance company for an additional $500 with a thank you note for saving them $500.

Policy Limits

In addition, certain items such as jewelry, firearms, coin collections, furs, fine art, computers, and electronics are subject to policy limits. To make sure you're adequately covered, inventory your possessions and compare the value against your personal property coverage and any related limits.

The following list represents common policy limits:

Business personal property - $2500

Computer equipment and electronics - $1000

Firearms - $2000

Jewelry, furs, fine arts - $1000-$1500

Money (including coin collections) - $250

Silverware - $2500

Structures other than dwelling such as sidewalks, driveways, fences, permanent yard structures, and swimming pools – 10% of the dwelling limit

Trees and landscaping – 5% of the dwelling limit

Endorsements (riders) to consider:

Individual floaters for valuable items

Replacement Cost Value coverage (not available for personal property on flood policies)

Personal Liability Limits

Most policies offer liability limits of $100,000 to $300,000. While this sounds like a lot of money, it might not be enough especially if you have a high net worth or own expensive assets, a dog, a swimming pool, or your own business.

Most policies offer liability limits of $100,000 to $300,000. While this sounds like a lot of money, it might not be enough especially if you have a high net worth or own expensive assets, a dog, a swimming pool, or your own business.

If you have a home-based business, your liability is limited. For example, if a customer or business contact is injured in your home, your homeowners insurance won't necessarily cover injuries, medical costs, or lawsuits.

Endorsements (riders) to consider:

Home business endorsement

Increase liability limits to match or exceed your net worth

Umbrella policy

Because all situations are different, it's important to understand your policy and address any shortcomings before disaster strikes. Review your policy annually and add or remove endorsements as needed to reflect any changes in your situation.

In addition, you may want to call a Public Insurance Adjusting company in your area and ask them what insurance company is writing the best policies and is which company would be easiest to deal with if you were ever faced with a claim. Then, keep that company's number handy just in case you ever need them.

InsuranceAfter an Accident Insurance ClaimsMake the insurance claims process easier by following these steps.Am I Covered? Car Insurance QuestionsAsk your insurance agent these questions. It helps to understand the types and extent of coverage you have. There are a lot, but you're paying a lot.Appealing an Insurance SettlementIf you have a difference of opinion on your insurance settlement, you can begin an appeal process, starting with your agent, moving to the claims adjuster at your insurance company, or your state's watchdog agency for insurance consumers. What's Your Insurance Score?Like a credit score used by banks, insurance scores rate your risk (how financially stable you are). Research has shown that people who are in better shape credit-wise tend to file less insurance claims. Working With a Claims AdjusterOnce you have notified your insurance company of your loss, you will meet with a claims or field adjuster employed by the company. If You Have No InsuranceIf you have no insurance (or less insurance coverage than you thought), your recovery will be based on your own resources and help from friends, relatives and your community. Estimating Your Home's ValueDo you have enough insurance on your home to rebuild it if it is destroyed? Do you even know how to calculate the amount of insurance you need? Key Insurance Terms Determining ValueKnowing these terms helps to understand the process insurance agencies and relief organizations use to determine the value of your loss. Your tax accountant can also help you when claiming your losses. Top Homeowners Insurance MythsHomeowner's insurance can be a bit complicated. William S. Coffman, Jr., WHN's Guest Columnist, provides some common myths about insurance and insights into the realities of insurance and the claims process.Property Damage Questions for Your AgentThese are some questions to ask your insurance agent. These may confirm what you already know or may help you understand the extent and specifics of your coverage.Insurance Riders Do I Need One?You pay your homeowners premiums on time and feel reasonably comfortable that you are well covered should disaster ever strike, right? Wrong. Even if you think you have adequate coverage, you could be drastically underinsured.Life Insurance and Healthcare CostsIf you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may have already discovered that dealing with actual health issues is just part of the individual puzzle you must reassess and reassemble. Am I Covered? Home Insurance QuestionsThe more you know and understand about home insurance, the better you can insure yourself and your family in case of loss. Am I Covered? Life Insurance QuestionsHere is a 'starter' list of things to consider and questions to ask your agent. You'll probably come up with questions or ideas that best fit your needs. Choosing a Life Insurance BeneficiaryIf you own assets, from bank accounts to life insurance, it's important that you choose a beneficiary. Filing an Insurance ClaimA few tips on how to file a claim after a natural disaster, fire or theft. Motorcycle InsuranceThe more you know and understand about motorcycle insurance, accident coverage, and your own policy, the better off you are. Pet InsurancePet insurance is similar to health insurance: you may be reimbursed if the unexpected occurs. Property Damage What to Expect from Your AgentHere is a list of actions an insurance agent may follow after a claim. If you receive money from your agent or arrangements are being made for you, be sure to ask your agent what is covered under your policy and how much you are covered for. Reviewing and Updating Your Homeowner's InsuranceWhen was the last time you reviewed your home insurance policy? According to Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, there are six events that should trigger a review.Flood InsuranceOne of the most important things that you can do to protect your home and family before a flood is to purchase a flood insurance policy - even if you don't live in a flood-prone area. Earthquake Insurance ResourcesUseful links to information about disaster-related insurance resources.