How Do Renters Insurance Claims Work?
What Gives Rise To A Renters Insurance Personal Property Claim?
You may want to take a quick look at our post on what you can claim on renters insurance. It gives a good overview of the things that you can claim, and the things that you can’t. In short, you must have a covered loss to give rise to a claim.
What’s a covered loss? It’s loss or damage to personal property that’s covered under the policy and which is caused by a covered peril. The covered perils are the things enumerated in your policy that are listed as being covered. Water damage from a broken pipe, theft, fire, and explosion are common examples.
Your personal property has to suffer loss or damage as a result of the claim – if that broken pipe didn’t cause you to suffer any losses, you can’t make a claim just because the pipe broke. There has to be a quantifiable loss, of course. That loss involves your personal property suffering damage or destruction.
How Do You Start A Renters Insurance Claim?
That’s easy! Just call! A friendly claims representative will take some basic information about the loss, the cause, and your policy. That information gets handed over to an adjuster, who will ask for some additional information, make sure that you have a complete list of what’s included in the claim, and take care of it for you.
The entire process can take a few days, but there are some types of coverage which are available before the loss is settled in its entirety. Loss of use coverage is a good example. You may be able to be advanced additional living expenses while the claim is being worked, because those are costs you’re incurring in real time.
How Do You Prove A Renters Insurance Claim?
Ideally, you should have a list of the things you own, called a home inventory already prepared. Doing so in advance makes it much easier to ensure that you’re claiming everything that you had, and that you’re not leaving anything out. Often, claims are coupled with emotion and difficult times. That’s why the list is so important.
When you’re moving in is a great time to make the list, because you can list or photograph everything as you unpack it and put it away. You’ll want to make sure the list is stored somewhere off-site, of course, to protect it from the same perils that could damage your property. Fortunately, cloud storage is cheap or free.
If you don’t have that list, you can often get your bank or credit card company to give you statements that will substantiate large purchases. Small purchases generally don’t need too much information, you won’t likely be asked to account for every single pair of socks that you owned.
How Do You Get Paid For A Renters Insurance Claim?
Once you’ve proven the things that suffered the loss, you’ll get a check. The check will be made out to everyone who is a named insured under the policy, which is why it’s a good idea for each roommate to have a policy of their own to avoid any misunderstandings or difficulties in cashing the check.
Your policy will usually include replacement cost coverage, so you’ll be able to go buy new items to replace the ones that suffered the loss. Once you cash the check, you’ll just go out and make the purchases, replace your stuff, and get on with your life.
Often, you’ll get two checks – the first will be for actual cash value, and you make the purchases and prove them to the adjuster. After that, they issue a check to reimburse you for the difference between ACV and replacement cost. This isn’t a terrible burden, because you can replace large items first and use the check for the difference to replace the smaller items if necessary. Many companies do it this way because it ensures that you’re actually buying the replacement property.
You could, in theory, spend the ACV check on anything you want, but the insurance company is only obligated to pay you the replacement cost if you actually replace the property in question. So if you use the ACV check for a vacation to Belize, don’t count on the remainder of the money.
Things are different if you still owe money on the thing you’re getting the check for. In that case, whomever you owe the money to probably has a security interest in the insurance claim and the item. There are additional complexities, as well, so it pays to be very careful about how you replace the property and if you make that choice.
What About Liability Claims On Renters Insurance?
Liability claims are, of course, a whole different ballgame. There’s a great deal more investigation that goes into them, and many more questions to be answered. Often, liability claims are at least partially litigated, but this will be extremely dependent on the fact pattern.
The good news is that if it comes to that, litigating the claim isn’t your problem. If the claim would be paid by the policy, the insurer will pay for a lawyer for you. That’s called the duty to defend, and it’s one of the most important parts of your policy and one of the most forgotten about parts, as well.
Liability claims must be proven to a different standard, and the insurer will tell you what they need from you. It’s crucial, of course, that you not attempt to pay or settle the claim on your own. If you do, the insurer’s duty to pay may not be present and the duty to defend you will be gone. Listen to what the lawyer and the insurer tell you, offer the information they want, and let them take care of it. That is, after all, exactly what you pay them to do.
Renters insurance and claims can be complicated. That’s why the insurance experts for renters are available to walk you through getting the right coverage to meet your needs. All you have to do is call (800)892-4308 or click to get covered - whether you need Washington renters insurance quotes online or coverage anywhere else!
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