Should You File a Homeowners Insurance Claim?

Homeowners’ insurance is designed to protect you from financial ruin when the worst happens to your largest asset. If a plane crashes into your house, it is obvious that your insurance company will need to become involved. However, for less serious losses, should you file a claim? Here, we answer some commonly asked questions on this topic:

Does my policy provide coverage for the damage that occurred?

Perils such as fire, smoke, and explosion are usually covered. Coverage for foundation, water damage or slow seepage will depend on the kind of policy you have. Flooding due to rising waters is never covered in a home insurance policy. If you attempt to file a claim for something that is not covered, you will not only be wasting your time, but you will also end up with a claim against your record. The golden rule is to ask your agent what your policy covers, before making that call to the claims department!

What is a deductible, and how much is mine?

The deductible is the portion of the loss that you pay out of pocket before the insurance steps in to take care of the rest. On your homeowners policy, your deductibles will usually be listed as percentages, or sometimes dollar amounts. Typical deductibles for homeowners insurance in Houston are 2% for wind and hail (including hurricane), and 1% for all other perils. In other words, on a $300,000 home policy, you would pay the first $6,000 of a weather-related claim, and the first $3,000 of all other claims. If you can’t find the numbers on your policy, or if you are unsure, give your agent a call and they will be happy to explain.

It looks like the damage will probably be more than my deductible. What next?

You should get an estimate from a licensed contractor for the total cost of the repairs. In fact, you’ll want to do this anyway, regardless of whether you plan on filing a claim.

So …. the repairs will cost $7,000, and my deductible is $6,000. I’m good to file a claim, right?

Not so fast. All claims, even those where little or no money was actually paid out, will show on your record. Claims often lead to premium increases – particularly if more than one claim is filed over a three or five-year period. If you have a lot of claims, you may even be “non-renewed” by your insurance company, and will have to seek inferior coverage elsewhere. In other words, it may be cheaper in the long run to pay for the damage yourself, even if the repair bill exceeds your deductible. So the best advice is speak to your agent, do the math, and don’t rush to file a claim when something happens.

My house burned to the ground, so should I file a claim?

Of course. Major disasters are what your home insurance is there for. This is the moment you’ll be glad you opted for the Replacement Cost policy, instead of an Actual Cash Value one which depreciates your roof and personal property every year.

My neighbor fell down in my driveway and broke her leg. Should I file a claim?

Yes. You never know when a liability claim can become a full-blown financial and legal disaster, so it is wise to file these kinds of claims as soon as possible.

My old fence finally fell down in last week’s storm. It was due for replacement anyway. Will my homeowners’ insurance cover it?

No. Your side of the bargain with the insurance company is to maintain your home to a reasonable standard, and your homeowners policy is not designed to cover routine maintenance or wear-and-tear issues. This means that any related claims will be denied.

Reasons to Get Flood Insurance in the State of Texas

Standard home insurance policies don’t cover floods. In fact, it’s the most excluded type of peril. You should consider getting flood insurance if you live in an area that’s regarded to be high-risk for this kind of disaster. The state of Texas has specific areas that are considered to be “flood zones,” but it doesn’t mean that they can’t happen elsewhere. The state of Texas has experienced more flooding than what’s considered to be statistically probable, and it has put more homes in danger than what was expected.

How Flood Insurance Can Help You

The flooding that resulted from Hurricane Harvey led to more than 87,000 flood insurance claims that have been filed by Texas homeowners, business owners, and renters. But some of the victims didn’t have coverage. Flood insurance can keep you from bearing the financial burden that can come from this kind of damage. Even a few inches of water can lead to thousands in repairs. But as long as your area participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can be covered for the building and contents of your home in case this kind of event occurs.

FEMA encourages people to buy flood insurance before it occurs because it can’t pay a claim if you don’t have a policy in-force when it happens. A flood insurance policy goes into effect 30 days after you buy it, so it’s important to get one as soon as possible. And you don’t have to own your home to get a flood insurance policy. Renters are encouraged to participate in this program so they can get their contents covered in case of a flood. Be sure to speak to someone at Memorial Insurance Agency in Houston, TX for more information.

A Great Choice for Flood Insurance in Houston, TX!

If you want a reliable choice for flood insurance in Houston, TX, Memorial Insurance Agency has a team of people who can help you get a great policy for your budget. We have been serving this area for a long time, so we can help you get the coverage you need at a price that you can afford. If you want to get a flood insurance policy for your home or place of business, please get in touch with us today!

Why You Should Take Photos Of Everything You Own

Apart from having adequate flood insurance coverage, one of the most valuable lessons that emerged from Hurricane Harvey was the importance of documenting your possessions. Just one hour spent photographing your belongings now could save you a lot of time and stress later.

If your possessions are damaged, displaced, or destroyed by fire or flood, it can be surprisingly hard to remember what you had. Not only that, but your insurance company is going to want copies of receipts or photos in order to prove you actually owned the items in the first place.

Here is how to do it right:

  • Use your cellphone, iPad or digital camera to take high quality images in daylight.
  • Open drawers, cupboards and closets and take photos of the contents.
  • Take photos of valuable items separately, with a card alongside them showing price and date of purchase.
  • Back up your photos to a cloud server, to make sure you can access them even if your computer, phone and camera are destroyed.
  • Don’t forget to update your photo inventory when you make a new purchase!

Why not take this opportunity to make sure you have enough personal property coverage on your homeowners’ and flood insurance policies? Be sure to call your account manager at Memorial Insurance if you need expert guidance.

Be Sure to Get Boat Insurance This Summer!

You wouldn’t even consider driving off down the road without auto insurance, so why take to the water without boat insurance? Although certain kinds of small boats may be covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy, for most watercraft with a motor you’re going to want a separate boat insurance policy. The good news is that boat coverage is usually surprisingly affordable.

Boat insurance coverages are broadly similar to car insurance, and can include collision damage protection, compensation for theft or damage to your boat, bodily injury and property damage liability, medical payments, additional equipment …. and even roadside assistance (probably best referred to as waterside assistance!).

As with auto insurance, it is important to include uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage. That way, if you get hit by an uninsured boater while out on the water, or if that boater doesn’t have enough insurance, your own boat policy would step in to cover the damages.

The cost of your boat insurance will vary depending on where you live, the type of boat you wish to insure (especially how fast/powerful it is), whether you use your boat on inland waters or the open sea, and which coverage options you select.

As always, your independent insurance agent is on hand to not only give you expert guidance about which coverages you need, but also to shop your requirements with a variety of different carriers to find the policy that works best for you.

Happy boating this summer season!