When To File a Claim

by Kevin Perry
March 29, 2019

Insurance, whether it’s for your personal vehicles, home, rental properties or business, it’s an important asset when catastrophe happens. However, in today’s society insurance is often viewed as somewhat of a maintenance or warranty mechanism. Let’s be clear, insurance is no way a maintenance policy.

When catastrophe happens and the event sets you or your business in financial stress, that’s when insurance should kick in and restore you or your business back to where you were before the event. A blown car engine is not something insurance covers.

Some policyholders also believe they should get more out of their insurance than what the policy describes or covers. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover “above” restoration of what you have insured. Example, if you insure your 1,800 square foot, 2 story frame home and one day it burns down. You cannot replace or restore it with a 2,800 square foot, 3 story brick home.

So, when should your file a claim with your insurance company? The first step of determining if you actually have a claim is to have a conversation with your insurance agent. Insurance agents are advocates that understand your insurance coverages, exclusions and deductibles. For the most part, insurance agents can quickly identify if a claim should be filed.

The obvious insurance claim, for example, you rear ended another vehicle or your house caught fire, will be an automatic claim. However, there are scenarios where you may be unclear if your insurance policy will cover the loss. Let’s say your water heater decides to malfunction one day and your plumber says the equipment needs replacement. Most of the time home insurance policies won’t insure against mechanical and electrical breakdown. However, some insurance carriers now will extend coverage for mechanical and electrical breakdown for an additional premium. The key to discovering if you have or need to add this type of coverage to your policy is to have a conversation with your insurance agent.

Another example of when insurance coverage doesn’t apply is getting a flat tire. Though your insurance policy may not cover the flat tire, you may be able to at least ask for roadside assistance to have the vehicle towed so long as the coverage is included on the policy. Most auto policies can add roadside assistance, which includes towing, jumpstarts, fuel, tire change, lockout, and winching, for a very small and affordable premium.

Why is it important to file a claim with my insurance agent? Your agent will not only help you understand the coverages on your policy but will guide you through the claims process. Agents also have excellent tips of how to document claims, where to go for repairs, and can advocate on your behalf with claims adjusters. Having a personal relationship with your insurance agent is vital to your claims experience. Agents will help you before, during and after your claim has been filed. Also, some agents have the ability to settle small claims right from their office.

Can you file a claim with an agent after their office hours? Most agents have office hours, typically between 9 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday. However, claims don’t always happen during this time and some agents have after hours claims reporting lines, whether by phone, email or text messaging. In the event an agent is not available and you really need to speak with someone immediately, you can always count on filing a claim with your insurance carrier.

The bottom line, always communicate with your insurance agent on any issue that may arise. You hope that your never have to experience a day where your property or liability is at stake, but rest assured insurance agents are here to help you with that process.

Of course you can always count on agents to help you with billing, customer service questions, changes to your policy, setting up new insurance, coverages questions, or even just a friendly chat of how life is going. Your agent not only is an advocate for your insurance needs but a local small business owner that experiences the same questions and issues you have too.