Understanding the Insurance Policy – Your Rights and Responsibilities
The insurance policy is a contract between the insurance company and you. It entitles you to specific rights but it also imposes obligations. We want to help you better understand these basic rights and obligations.
Every insurance company writes its own unique policy, but the base coverages between most policies are quite similar.
Generally speaking, as long as the loss is covered, you are entitled to the amount it costs to restore your property to pre-loss condition minus the deductible, the amount you are required to pay. This does not, however, take into account unrelated problems like pre-existing damage or deterioration. Most policies also have limited coverage for items like jewelry, landscaping, money, silverware, etc. unless special supplemental coverage has been added to the policy.
As the property owner, you are entitled to employ the services of a capable and reputable restoration company. Only you can authorize a company to perform work. If the work is performed improperly by a contractor you did not select, you can still be responsible for any consequences, further damage or even liability.
Materials used in the restoration process should be equal to the quality of those in place before the loss occurred. Any true professional restorer performs to the proper Standard of Care, uses insurance industry accepted pricing and stands behind their work. If a particular restorer is significantly lower cost than another, it usually for an unfavorable reason.
Current laws dictate that you are responsible for disclosing past damage to future buyers, which makes it even more important that you select a professional restorer. If the property is not returned to pre-loss condition, it can cause serious problems when it comes time for you to sell.
Give Prompt Notice to Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance agent to report the damage as soon as possible.
Call the Police in Case of Loss by Theft
If someone has stolen something from your property after it has been damaged, you are obligated to report the theft to the police.
Protect the Property from Further Damages Including Reasonable and Necessary Repairs
This refers to damage like holes in the roof that should be covered, windows and doors that should be boarded up and any other necessary temporary repairs which will keep any damage from becoming worse. Swartz Contracting can respond quickly and assist you with these tasks, or you can also ask your insurance agent for additional information.
Show the Damaged Property
You are required to show the insurance company any damaged property if they reasonably request to see it. Provide records, documents and permits to the Insurance Company and make copies for yourself. The insurance company may desire to see deeds, bills of sale, and other documents that establish ownership and values.
Prepare and Inventory
This is a difficult task, but it is your responsibility to carefully go through your home and make a detailed list of every destroyed and damaged item. Prepare an inventory of damaged personal property showing the quantity, description and actual cash value (what each item is worth) for each item. You should present receipts whenever possible.
Keep an Accurate Record of Repair Expense
While making repairs, you must keep receipts and detailed records for submission to the insurance company in order to get properly reimbursed. Restoration contractors commonly provide duplicate receipts to the insurance company as a matter of business and Swartz Contracting will work with you through the entire process and provide you with all the proper documentation required.