It’s a well-known fact that if you own your own home, carrying a homeowner’s insurance policy is an excellent idea, and usually required by your lender if you have a mortgage. So how do you protect yourself if you rent your home? The answer is renter’s insurance.
While your landlord’s property insurance will deal with any structural damage to your rental, it will not usually cover replacement of any of your own belongings, nor will it protect you from financial responsibility if the damage is your fault. Renter’s insurance can provide coverage to replace your lost personal property and insulate you from financial liability in a fashion similar to homeowner’s insurance, and often covers fire, theft, and even pet attack injuries or other personal injury issues.
Five Reasons That Renter’s Insurance Claims Get Denied
In order to take advantage of your renter’s insurance and recoup your losses, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. However, insurance companies long ago realized that they don’t make any money by paying out claims, and they will often try to weasel out of paying claims.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid to make sure that your claim is successful.
- No home inventory. When you have renter’s insurance, it’s important to make an inventory of your significant possessions. It can be difficult to keep a receipt of everything you own, but a digital photo speaks a thousand words, and can be stored securely and in a cloud-based service, often for free. This is especially important for costly items, such as computers, tablets, televisions, video game systems (don’t forget your game collection, too), jewelry, firearms, tools, musical instruments, and even designer clothes. If you have especially valuable items, your insurance company may even require you to list them as a part of the policy itself. Without an inventory, proving that you owned an exact item can be difficult in the aftermath of a fire or theft. Expect skepticism at the very least, if not outright denial.
- An unlisted person is responsible. If you live with someone, be sure that he or she is listed on the policy. Even if you carry your own policy, if your unlisted roommate or significant other causes the damage, you’re likely going to be out of luck—and on the hook for the damages.
- Wrong or inaccurate information. When you move, make sure to call your insurance company and update your policy right away—otherwise, you will not be covered, even if you’ve been paying a premium. Make sure that all of the information that the insurance company asks for is accurate, too: a fire caused by a stray cigarette may not be covered if you’re receiving a non-smoking discount, for example.
- The hazard is not covered. Make sure that you know what your policy covers and doesn’t. Flood damage is almost never covered by renter’s insurance, for example. Usually, flood coverage is available separately through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Waiting too long to file a claim. Check with your insurer to find out what the specific timeframe is for filing a claim. It can vary per state and per policy, but generally, the sooner you file your claim, the greater the chance that it won’t be denied. Evidence to back up your claim can have a way of disappearing quickly.
Get Legal Help With Your Insurance Claim
Sometimes, even when you’ve held up your end of the bargain by paying your premium and following the guidelines of your policy, the insurance company will still try to find a reason to minimize or even deny your claim outright. When you think you’re being treated unfairly by the insurance company, it may be time to contact an attorney to help you negotiate a settlement or—as a last resort—file a lawsuit to seek the compensation that you’re owed.
Wayne Wright LLP brings decades of experience standing up for the rights of Texas renters in their time of need. For a free case evaluation of your situation, call us today at 800-237-3334.