What you should know when faced with an insurance claim
TOPEKA, Kan. — Filing an insurance claim can be an added stressful process following an accident or natural disaster. In fact, according to the new 2011 Kansas Consumer Complaint Ratio booklet from the Kansas Insurance Department (KID), of the complaints registered for all lines of insurance in 2011, almost two-thirds—65 percent—of complaints concerned problems related to claims handling.
In breaking down that statistic some more, most claims processing problems involved an unsatisfactory claim settlement/offer, denial of a claim, or claims delays.
Those three areas certainly can lead to your anxiety with the whole process. What might help are the following tips, all commonsense aids in keeping your cool in stressful circumstances.
Know your policy — Understand what your policy says. The policy is a legal contract between you and your insurance company. Know what’s covered, what’s excluded and what the deductibles are. Enlist your local agent, if needed, to guide you through the coverage details.
File claims as soon as possible — Don’t let the bills or receipts pile up. Call your agent or your company’s claims hotline as soon as possible. Your policy might even require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
Provide complete, correct information — Be certain to give your insurance company all the necessary information. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a claims processing delay.
Keep copies of all correspondence — Whenever you communicate with your insurance company, be sure to keep copies and records of all correspondence, emails and phone calls. Write down information about your telephone and in-person contacts, including the date, name and title of the person you spoke with and what was said. Also, keep a record of your time and expenses.
Document homeowners temporary repairs — Homeowners policies might require you to make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Your policy should cover the cost of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Also, take photos or video of the damage before making those repairs.
Document accident and health claims details — A consumer should keep track of bills and claim correspondence to make sure that his/her insurance company has received a claim for every service being billed. Sometimes claims are not submitted, or not received, and the problem may not become apparent until the consumer is contacted by a collection agency several months later.
Ask questions — If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for the specific language in the policy that is in question. Find out if the disagreement is because you and the insurance company interpret your policy differently.
Don’t rush into a settlement — If the first offer made by your insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement. If you have any questions regarding the fairness of your settlement, talk with your local agent or call our Kansas Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Hotline, 800-432-2484.
Being a savvy insurance consumer is a great way to avoid the potential frustrations of a claim when you have an accident or have to deal with a natural disaster. But, if you need additional assistance, KID employees will be here to help.
The Kansas Insurance Department, established in 1871, assists and educates consumers, regulates and reviews companies and licenses agents selling insurance products in the state. More about the department is online at www.ksinsurance.org or at http://www.facebook.com/kansasinsurancedepartment.
Flood tips and info, by Travelers Insurance
Top 10 flood insurance questions
Here are the 10 most frequently asked questions about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
1. Doesn't my homeowners policy cover floods?
NO. Most major insurance companies (including Travelers) do not offer flood protection as part of their homeowners coverage. Catastrophic risks created by floods are just too costly and would raise homeowners premiums too high. The NFIP is the only way for homeowners to address the risk of flood.
2. Can I buy NFIP coverage through Travelers?
You bet. Travelers works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the administrator of the NFIP so that we can make flood coverages available to our customers.
3. Can't I just hold out for federal disaster assistance?
Hardly. Federal disaster assistance is declared in less than half of all flooding incidents. Besides, the annual premium for a NFIP policy is less expensive than the interest on most federal disaster loans. The only real option is to get insured before the loss. Even if a federal grant or loan is awarded to you after a major flood, you'll probably be required to use part of the proceeds to purchase a NFIP policy.
4. Is my basement covered?
NFIP policies have some coverage for basement elements: cleanup expense and items such as furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers, air conditioners, freezers, utility connections, and pumps are included. Contents in a finished basement are excluded, as are a basement's finished walls, floors, and ceilings.
5. Do I have to wait until a completed elevation certificate is issued to me?
No. With provisional rating, Travelers can make coverage available even before an elevation certificate is complete (required on homes built after December 31, 1974 in map zones coded A or V). So you won't need to delay closing on a loan or settlement of a property.
6. Can I finance my purchase?
Sure, Travelers accepts all major credit cards.
7. Isn't it too tough to sign up and not worth my time since I'm in a low to moderate risk area?
Today it is even easier for people in zones coded B, C, and X to secure coverage. And more than 25% of all NFIP flood claims come from these low to moderate risk areas.
8. I can't qualify for coverage because I'm not in the flood plain, right?
Wrong. Almost everyone in a participating community qualifies for coverage and almost every community participates in the program. Remember to set the policy limits to the full value of your structure and buy contents coverage too.
9. Aren't the NFIP limits too low to matter?
Not anymore. The 1994 improvements to the National Flood Insurance Program bumped up the limits on single family residences to $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the structure's contents. Even commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for contents. Replacement cost coverage is available for structures on a limited basis for single-family dwellings that are primary residences.
10. Can't I just wait until it starts raining to buy Flood Insurance coverage?
Not if you want to be covered. Under most circumstances you've got to wait 30 days from the time the premium and application are received to be covered. So you can buy the coverage when it starts raining, but it won't protect you until 30 days later. The only way to circumvent the 30-day waiting period is if your community has revised its flood map within the last year or this is your first purchase and it is required by a lending institution to close a loan.
Myths and facts about the NFIP
We'd like to take a few moments to correct some common misconceptions about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
MYTH: Flood insurance is not available in high risk areas
FACT: Almost anyone in NFIP participating communities can purchase flood insurance. In fact, this program was specifically created to help those in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) obtain coverage. Federally regulated lenders must require borrowers in SFHAs to buy flood insurance as a condition of their mortgage. One exception: residents of Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS) areas are not eligible for flood insurance. These residents make up much less than 1% of the US population.
MYTH: You can wait until the last minute to buy flood coverage.
FACT: Although you can buy coverage just prior to a flood, there is a 30 day waiting period after you have paid the premium before the policy becomes effective. Two exceptions to the waiting period are:
if the flood map for your community was revised in the last year, and
if your initial flood insurance purchase is required to close a loan. Otherwise you must wait for 30 days before coverage begins.
MYTH: My homeowners policy covers flood damage to my home and property.
FACT: Homeowners policies rarely, if ever, cover flooding as a cause of loss. The only way to protect your home from loss due to flood damage is federal flood insurance.
MYTH: Flood insurance is available only to homeowners.
FACT: Coverage is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments, and commercial - nonresidential buildings.
MYTH: If your property has been flooded even once, you can't get flood insurance.
FACT: As long as your community participates in the NFIP, you are eligible to buy flood insurance, regardless of how many times your property has been flooded.
MYTH: I don't need flood insurance, I'm not in a high risk area.
FACT: Around 25% of NFIP's claims come from outside high risk flood areas. Substantial premium discounts exist for residents who live in low to moderate risk areas.
MYTH: No basement coverage is available on a flood policy.
FACT: Flood Insurance provides coverage for basement clean up and items used to service the building such as boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters, air conditioners, etc. Most contents and improvements to basements are not covered.
MYTH: Federal disaster assistance will pay for flood damage.
FACT: Less than 50% of all flooding incidents are declared federal disaster areas. The $400 average annual flood insurance premium is much less costly than is interest on a federal disaster loan. Furthermore, recipients of federal disaster loans or grants must purchase flood insurance to receive disaster relief in the future.
MYTH: The NFIP encourages coastal development.
FACT: One of NFIP's primary objectives is to guide development away from coastal or flood-prone areas. In addition, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982 (CBRA) relies on the NFIP to discourage building on fragile coastal areas covered by the CBRA.
MYTH: Federal flood insurance can only be purchased directly through the NFIP.
FACT: Federal flood insurance policies are sold through private insurance agents and companies and are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States of America. Travelers is proud to work with the NFIP in providing this essential form of coverage.
MYTH: NFIP insurance does not cover flooding from hurricanes or the overflow of rivers or tidal waters.
FACT: The NFIP definition of coverage does cover floods caused by hurricanes or overflow of rivers or tidal waters. However, two or more acres or two or more adjacent properties must be affected. The policy defines flooding as a general and temporary condition during which the surface of normally dry land is partially or completely inundated. The cause of flooding can be:
- overflow of tidal waters or inland waters
- runoff, such as from rainfall
- mudflows caused by flooding
- collapse of land along a body of water from erosion exceeding normal levels.
MYTH: Wind driven rain is considered flooding.
FACT: Damage by wind driven rain is not covered under the NFIP policies, but is usually covered under homeowners policies such as those offered by Travelers as a windstorm peril.
Reconstruction Cost Versus The Cost Of A New Home
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A home inventory is a complete breakdown of the contents within your home. A home inventory will help you provide a detailed list to your insurance agent of anything you may have lost if your home is damaged or destroyed in a covered claim. Under a standard homeowners insurance policy, contents coverage provides reimbursement for your personal belongings in your home.
Your home inventory should list all of the contents of your home. Remember though that just because something is listed in your home inventory, doesn't mean it is guaranteed to be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. You will want to list any high-value items in your home inventory including electronics, furniture, jewelry, etc. If you have any items of particularly high value (for example a diamond bracelet) you should check with your agent to see what type of limits your policy has on that item.
You may need to take out a rider, or schedule an endorsement, for that item.
A home inventory is an important asset for any homeowners insurance policy holder as oftentimes when disaster strikes it can be difficult to remember everything in your home that you may have lost. It is a good idea to keep a few copies of your home inventory- for example, keep a copy in a fire-proof safe as well as a backup copy somewhere other than your home. Also, saving a digital copy somewhere outside of your home is also a good idea.
A few additional tips for creating a home inventory:
- List serial numbers for any items that have them
- Take photos and keep receipts of high value items and include copies of them with your home inventory
- Remember to update your home inventory regularly
To Get The Right Auto Insurance
Using the right tool for a job is key to success in any profession. Experts say the same principle applies when selecting an auto insurance policy. Having the right type of policy can help ensure that you, your employees and your business are all protected in the unfortunate event that one of your vehicles is involved in an accident.
If you’re a business owner and you or your employees use a vehicle for business-related deliveries or to carry certain materials to and from a job site, you may need a commercial auto insurance policy that’s tailored to more closely suit the needs—and risks—of a business vehicle operator.
Here are some questions that can help you determine if you might need a commercial auto policy instead of a personal auto policy, courtesy of Midwest Professional Insurance:
- Do you need more liability coverage than your personal auto policy provides? Generally, a commercial auto policy provides higher limits of liability, but less or no coverage in areas that are typically not associated with commercial auto risks.
- Do you need special coverage for situations associated with con-ducting business? Commercial auto policies also usually offer certain coverages—such as hired and non-owned auto coverage and coverage for towing a trailer for business use—that are not available with personal auto policies.
- Do you need to list any employees as drivers? You can do this with a commercial auto
- Do you use your vehicle for business purposes? If you use your vehicle for things like pizza or newspaper delivery, catering, door-to-door consulting service, landscaping or snowplowing service, logging business, day care/church retreat van service and/or farm-to-market delivery, you might need a commercial auto policy.
Midwest Professional Insurance is an independent insurance agency – trained, licensed insurance professionals who offer personal service and advice. We can help match you with the type of policy that best suits your needs and those of your company.
To learn more about all an independent agency offers,
visit progressiveagent.com or give us a call.
Here's your round-up of the latest headlines and news from Fireman's Fund.
Winter Weather Tips for Homeowners
Nov. 11, 2011 - This winter got off to an early and roaring start with the recent surprise snowstorm in the Northeast. Claims related to the storm are projected to be significant. But with many months before spring arrives, there's still opportunity for you to help your clients mitigate their risk of injury or loss from winter storms.
Update on Our Personal Lines Policy Administration Platforms
Nov. 11, 2011 - In 2009, we launched the Fireman's Fund Policy Administration System platform for personal lines (known as EPAS) in 11 states: AZ, CO, CT, IL, KS, MD, MO, OH, OR, TN, and TX. Our goal was to increase efficiency and make us easier to do business with, but after two years of real-world testing and feedback from our agents, we have concluded that EPAS will not be able to deliver the necessary benefits and customer experience. As a result, we have made the decision to discontinue further development of the EPAS platform.
Learn About Our New Direct Bill System Live, from the Experts
Nov. 11, 2011 - You can learn about our new direct bill system for personal lines policyholders live from the experts in a series of webinars we're offering through the end of December.
Help Us Improve Our Producer Bulletins
Nov. 11, 2011 - The producer bulletins you find on Fireman's Fund Agency News are meant to provide you with timely and important information to help you work with us. To ensure we are meeting this goal, we'd like your input.
Personal: Prestige® Home Rate Changes in Missouri
Nov 9, 2011 - We have made pricing changes to our Homeowners products in Missouri.
Commercial: Small Business - Changes to Underwriting Guidelines for Hotels
Nov 9, 2011 - We are making changes to our appetite and company selection guidelines for hotels in Small Business.
If you have trouble using these links, type www.firemansfund.com/agencynews into your browser. If you still cannot access the site, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those classic car owners who live in more dramatic climates, it's time to put their cars to sleep for the winter. We've put together some steps to help your clients do it right. Feel free to pass this information on to anyone who may benefit.
1. Top off your levels.
- Fill your gas tank and add a fuel preservative. The full tank keeps out moisture, and the preservative keeps the gas from breaking down. Take one last drive to circulate the preservative.
- Make sure your antifreeze is fresh and topped off.
- To avoid a nasty sludge in the spring, change the oil
2. Take preventative measures.
- Give your car a good wash and wax to protect the paint. Protect the chrome with wax or paint sealant.
- Over-inflate tires to avoid flat spotting, or jack up the car to take pressure off the tires.
- Put a battery manager on your car.
- To prevent rodents nesting in an engine compartment, try a rodent repellent under the hood. Just remember to remove it before starting up.
- Put down a few moisture pads on the upholstery to absorb moisture and prevent mildew.
- Cover the car with a breathable car cover to prevent corrosion and rust.
3. Re-circulate your oil.
- When a car sits, oil settles into the pan, leaving the engine without lubrication. Disconnect the coil wire and crank the engine over several times. Reconnect the coil wire and you should be good to go.
More information on winterization, along with a wide variety of car care articles can be found on our website. If you have any questions, please contact one of our licensed agents at 800-747-5348 or email email@example.com. To better serve you, our office is open seven days a week.
Homeowners Insurance 101- the basics
For any homeowner, understanding your homeowners insurance coverage is vital in becoming an educated insurance consumer. While there are a few different types of homeowners insurance policies, we have outlined the coverage included in a standard homeowners insurance policy below. For details on your specific coverage, however, you should contact your insurance agent or check your individual policy.
There are six basic types of coverage included in a standard homeowners insurance policy. They include:
Dwelling Coverage: Your Dwelling Coverage protects your home's structure against covered losses. The limits of your Dwelling Coverage will dictate the limits for the other types of coverage under your policy. Your Dwelling Coverage should be enough to replace your home in the event of a complete loss. This is typically calculated by multiplying your home's square footage by local building costs per square foot. The average for the KC area is around $100/sq. ft.
- Dwelling Coverage
- Other Structures Coverage
- Contents Coverage
- Loss of Use Coverage
- Liability Protection Coverage
- Medical Payments Coverage
Other Structures Coverage: Other Structures Coverage provides protection for the other structures on your insured property. The limits of your Other Structures Coverage are calculated as a percentage of your Dwelling Coverage. For example, most home insurance policies will offer about 10% of the Dwelling Coverage for Other Structures Coverage. Meaning, if you have $200,000 worth of Dwelling Coverage, your policy would automatically provide $20,000 in coverage for other structures on your property.
Contents Coverage: Your Contents Coverage protects your personal belongings including electronics, furniture, clothing, etc. Typically a standard policy will provide up to 50% of your dwelling limits for Contents Coverage, however, there are also individual limits for some items such as jewelry. This means that if you have $200,000 worth of Dwelling Coverage you may have $100,000 worth of Contents Coverage. However, your policy may have an individual limit of $1500 for jewelry. If you need additional coverage for a high value item (for example, a diamond ring or a coin collection) you would need to schedule an endorsement on your policy which would provide specific protection for that item.
Loss of Use Coverage: In the event your home becomes partially or entirely uninhabitable due to a covered loss, your
Loss of Use Coverage would provide reimbursement for living expenses that you incur while being displaced from your home. This may include dining, dry cleaning and hotel expenses. Loss of use coverage is usually provided at 20% of your Dwelling Coverage.
Personal Liability Protection: Personal Liability Protection helps protect your financial well-being in the event that you are involved in a covered lawsuit. Liability limits for a standard policy is usually $100,000, however, this can be increased if needed. Our agency recommends $300,000.
Medical Payments Coverage: This coverage, also known as MedPay, helps you pay for medical bills in the event that someone is injured on your property and no lawsuit is being presented. Typically a standard policy will offer $1,000 per person, per incident for a MedPay claim. However, higher limits can be purchased.
|Progressive Spring 2011 Newsletter