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Should I Make a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim?

Written by Miranda Marquit on September 8, 2015 in Insurance  |   3 comments

Major damage to your home can also do damage to your wallet, and homeowner’s insurance is intended to help manage some of that cost. However, simply having insurance doesn’t mean that you should file a claim every time something goes wrong with your house. “Insurance…

InsuranceClaimMajor damage to your home can also do damage to your wallet, and homeowner’s insurance is intended to help manage some of that cost. However, simply having insurance doesn’t mean that you should file a claim every time something goes wrong with your house.

“Insurance isn’t meant to be a home warranty program,” says Colt Henderson, an insurance agent and manager with American National Property and Casualty Company (ANPAC). “Small things such as a broken window or a stain on the carpet are generally not worth making a claim on.”

Small homeowner’s insurance claims now can lead to higher premiums later

“I recommend that my clients have at least a $1,000 deductible,” says Henderson. He points out that this level of deductible will help keep premium costs down and can also make it easier to gauge whether an insurance claim would be worthwhile.

“Homeowner’s insurance is very sensitive to claims,” Henderson adds. “Several claims will make you ineligible for getting insurance from many companies or even cause your rates to jump.”

Henderson tells the story of one homeowner who filed a $900 theft claim and then saw her rate jump by more than $900 a year. He says it may not be worth filing a claim for less than $1,000 because “[your] insurance rate will probably increase more than you will be getting from the insurance company.”

Several small claims also can raise red flags for insurers when you shop around. Too many claims could make you an undesirable candidate for insurance because the company may believe it will be regularly making payouts. Henderson recommends saving claims for major damage, such as that caused by a natural disaster, fire, or theft.

Henderson also recommends first determining if you can resolve the issue on your own. “Talk with your local service providers, contractors, or restoration companies,” he suggests. “If they know you are paying for it personally, they may work with you to get repair costs down.”

Henderson also points out that your best defense can often be proper maintenance.

“Upkeep of a home is sometimes part of the cost of homeownership,” he says. Taking care of small problems before they become large issues means you are less likely to run into difficulties that require a homeowner’s insurance claim.

Set up an emergency fund and limit your claims

You may not want to file a claim unless the cost exceeds your deductible or what you can pay on your own. Instead, you may want to start an emergency fund that is at least as much as your deductible (or larger) so that you aren’t tempted to file a claim for something relatively small.

Additionally, consider starting a home maintenance and repair fund to cover general upkeep costs. Budgeting for these items can help you streamline your finances and avoid painful costs later.

Henderson says that you should make sure your home is properly insured to protect against common problems in your area, like flooding, tornadoes, or earthquakes. “Make sure you are covered for the big scary things,” he says. “Insurance is designed for the major catastrophes, so you need to be ready to cover the smaller problems yourself.”

Miranda Marquit is a freelance journalist specializing in financial topics. Read more of her writing on Huffington Post, Wise Bread, AllBusiness, and at her website, Planting Money Seeds. Follow her on Twitter: @MMarquit

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


3 comments

  1. Paul M. says:

    We just made our first claim this year on our homeowners. We had a problem with the dishwasher that caused major damage to the subflooring and hardwoods in our kitchen and hallway.

    I will say dealing with the adjustor for the first time was a major pain. Make sure if you have extensive damage you get a good general contractor who knows insurance claims. They will make sure you do not get less than you deserve.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We have major damage due to water accumulation under our 1920’s built home that sits 6 ft from one hill and 4 feet from another hill on another side. The mud slowly seeped down above the foundation, we weren’t even aware of all the water under the house because of lack of access. You can’t even walk between house and hill because there isn’t enough room. When I say 4 feet, I mean from about the middle of the hillast to the house. It’s a visual 4 feet, not accessible 4 feet. Now the bottoms of our weight baring beam, as well as entire outer foundation are rotting and we are trying to replace them a bit at a time. Insurance says this isn’t covered. But how could we have known when there’s literally no view under they’re since in 1920 homes were built different? I’m thinking our adjuster isn’t categorizing it correctly. Does this seem right? We’ve spent $11,000 and we’re only about 1/3 of the way done. Seems the county should have some responsibility here too as the wall that’s 4 feet from the hill has a guard rail at top of hill for a major street. Something just doesn’t seem right here that we are stuck paying for all of this when there is homeowners insurance to protect you from large monetary losses. At least I felt safe knowing we were insured because I thought this kind of thing would be covered. Any ideas, advise, suggestions PLEASE!


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