People purchase insurance hoping never to have to file a claim. But as many Louisville residents have come to realize, stuff happens.
When it happens to you, it pays to be a "belt-and-suspenders" consumer when it comes to insurance coverage. That means that you are in control of the recovery you will receive after an incident or accident with injury. But you have to lay the groundwork first.
What coverage do you need?
It depends on you and your lifestyle. If you own your property, you, of course, need homeowner's insurance. But if you are renting, you ideally should purchase renter's insurance for your possessions.
Get replacement coverage
This really can't be stressed enough. It is exceedingly frustrating for claimants to submit a renter's or homeowner's claim only to discover that their policy covers only the actual cash value of the stolen or destroyed property — nowhere near enough to buy a new item to replace what they lost.
Replacement coverage premiums might cost a bit more, but are well worth the investment.
What does renter or homeowner insurance cover?
If you come home from a night on the town to discover that the tree in your yard crashed into your house and took out your entire living room and electronics, your renter's or homeowner's policy should pay for the damaged items. In the latter case, it should also cover costs of stabilizing and repairing the home, as well as tree removal service.
Many consumers don't realize that a renter's or homeowner's policy can extend to items you own that are damaged in other locations. One example might be a laptop that was stolen from your hotel room while you were on vacation.
Your living expenses may be covered
After that tree came crashing down, you had to spend a couple weeks in a local motel until your home was repaired. That was an unwelcome additional expense that you could ill-afford.
The good news is that your motel charges may be fully reimbursable by your insurance company. But you must remember to include all the charges with your claim. Otherwise, once your claim is settled, there is no way to reopen it to get more compensation.
Policies cover your negligence
While exclusions apply, you may be relieved to know that your coverage extends to any property damage or physical harm that your negligent actions caused others to suffer. Such might be the case if a pet injured a guest.
But many homeowner policies specifically exclude dog bites, especially by certain so-called "dangerous" breeds. It's important that you read the fine print on all exclusions and terms. If your family pet is a pitbull or other "dangerous" breed, you might need to carry an extra rider to cover any potential damage from an attack.
Luxury items require more coverage
If you have expensive collectibles, guns, jewelry, antiques or art, you probably want additional coverage that reflects the true value of your high-end property.
Be smart about coverage
When purchasing your homeowner's policy, make sure you are only insuring your house and not the land beneath it. Adding the land value will result in your paying much more for the premium than you would for only the house.
When you submit a claim, your insurance company should treat you fairly and pay your claim promptly and at top value. Because that can be the exception to the rule, it's a good idea to get a legal opinion before accepting any settlement offers.