How Do Claims Impact My Homeowners Insurance

Dear Allison,

I recently purchased my first home and am not too familiar with how homeowners insurance works. One of my biggest questions is,  do claims impact my homeowners insurance?

Sincerely,

Susan S.  – Nashville

 

Susan,

Great question! The simple answer is “yes,” claims will impact your homeowners insurance.  The important thing to know is what the impact could be and how you can manage it.

Think of making a claim on your homeowners insurance like taking a sick day from work:  you only get so many over a period of time, so use them carefully.  You wouldn’t want to call in sick because you’re tired on a Monday morning, because you might get REALLY sick and need that time later.  In the same way, think before making a claim for something that you could take care of yourself because making claims can affect your insurance premiums and eligibility.  Save your claims for a day when you truly need help restoring your home.  Remember, insurance is intended for catastrophic losses (or those that would have significant impact on you financially) rather than general maintenance issues.

Let’s say storms pass through and leave you with downed trees in your front yard.  You definitely want them removed, but should you hire someone to do this or should your insurance pay for that? That is worth considering.  Now change the situation slightly.  Imagine that a tree came in through the ceiling and is now inside your dining room.   Of course you should rely on your insurance company for this repair.  The tough part is we don’t know what is going to happen in the future, and we don’t get to choose the nature or extent of the losses to our property.

You can safely assume that  your rates will usually increase after a claim, and that increase will typically last a few years. Further, it will also impact your eligibility for up to 5 years. Multiple claims in a short period of time may also affect your eligibility, and your policy could be non-renewed after too many claims are made, regardless of the dollar amount paid.

Here are a couple of ways to prevent unnecessary claims that could negatively impact you.

  • Keep an eye on necessary home maintenance, in particular your plumbing and roof
  • Get your HVAC serviced seasonally as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Trim trees back from your home

Most importantly, talk to your agent before turning in a claim. He or she can help you find someone to assess the damage before deciding if it is in your best interest to submit a claim based on the damage itself and your claims history.

Hope that helps!

Sincerely,

Allison

 

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