10 Tips For Filing An Insurance Claim During The Holidays
Filing an insurance claim may be the last thing on your mind during the holidays, but it is not an unlikely scenario. With the masses of people traveling, shopping, and decorating, there is a higher risk of car-related accidents, home robberies, and property damage than during the rest of the year. This surge in accidents and losses also means insurance companies have more to contend with, which makes filing a claim all the more difficult. To help you successfully file a claim in the event of a holiday emergency, follow these simple tips from our insurance lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A.
1. Review Your Insurance Policy
The first thing to do is to thoroughly review all insurance policy documentation or, better yet, hire personal injury attorneys in Orlando, FL, to help you. Doing so will help you determine when it's best to file a claim versus paying for repairs out of pocket. Be on the lookout for any coverage updates introduced over the years and special conditions for winter-time cases.
2. Expect Longer Wait Times
The winter months are the busiest times of the year for most insurance companies, so expect to wait longer for an agent to answer your call. As many as one third of all residential fires, for example, occur during the wintertime. Paperwork turnarounds might likewise be prolonged. In general, remember that patience is critical to file a claim during the holiday season.
3. Don’t File Too Many Claims
Filing too many claims in a short amount of time can increase your monthly premium significantly. As a general rule of thumb, only file a claim when repair and compensation costs are considerably higher than your deductible. If you could pay the difference out of pocket, it is often better to do so. For homeowners' insurance policies, for example, we advise that policyholders file up to two insurance claims per 5-year period.
4. Keep Track Of Your Case
Keep a record of all interactions with local authorities, insurance agents, and repair companies. Doing so can help you make a better case when filing and protect you against unfair practices from your insurance company. Remember that insurance companies are the busiest around this time of the year, making them more likely to make mistakes and cut corners.
5. Document Temporary Repairs
Most homeowners' insurance policies can compensate policyholders for any temporary repairs made before the filing of a claim. For example, if you had to board a broken window in the middle of a cold night, you could file an insurance claim several days after the fact. Remember to photograph the initial state of the scene. Photo or video evidence can help expedite the filing process and help you get the most coverage.
6. Always Contact The Authorities First
Police reports are important pieces of evidence when filing a crime-related claim. In the event of a crime, contact the local authorities right away before calling anyone else, including your insurance company. The local authorities are more likely to answer first during the busy holiday season, not to mention they can help ensure the safety of everyone involved.
7. Contact Your Landlord
While renter's insurance does not cover as much as homeowners' insurance, renters should err on the side of caution and document any property damages and losses. Before you decide on filing a claim, however, contact your landlord first to find out if they are at fault for the situation. Filing for damage and loss that your landlord should have covered will likely result in a dismissed case and an increase in your monthly premiums.
8. Keep All Receipts
If damages to your property have rendered it uninhabitable and you have to book a hotel temporarily, remember to keep all of the receipts. Most homeowner’s insurance plans include additional living expenses (ALE) insurance which can cover the costs of temporary housing in the event of covered property damages.
9. Be Careful When Using Social Media During Vacation
Some insurance companies will deny home robbery claims if the homeowners posted on social media that they were on vacation around the same time the crime occurred. They do so under a clause that indicates that homeowners must take necessary precautionary steps to prevent crimes, such as burglary. Be mindful of these unfair practices and hire an insurance dispute attorney to help you challenge them.
10. Hire Insurance Dispute Attorneys
Filing an insurance claim during the holidays has several challenges. Insurance companies are likely to decline more cases to ease their workload, but this can negatively affect policyholders. For the best protection of your rights, contact our insurance lawyers with the Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A., to schedule an insurance dispute consultation.