You hope you don’t have to file one, but if you do, there can be more than meets the eye.

When people ask me if a “hypothetical” claims scenario would be covered, the answer will almost always be “maybe”.  And that is because that is the answer I will get from the carrier.  They can’t answer for sure until a claim is filed, and the adjuster collects all of the details and reviews the policy to find out if coverage is provided.

Many times when I hear people complaining that something wasn’t covered by an insurance company, it’s because they didn’t buy the coverage.  Insurance is a contract.  You and the insurance company are agreeing to this contract when you buy the policy and make the payments.  You agree that if there is a loss, for instance covered damage to your home, you will protect the home from further damage until repairs can be made.  And they agree to pay for the repair to the damages.

You also agree to act in a responsible way.  For example, you won’t leave your Bend, Oregon home unattended with no heat in the Winter months and then expect the insurance company to pay to repair water damage caused from broken pipes.  Insurance policies exclude intentional damages.  Insurance is also not going to pay for your deferred maintenance. Don’t expect the insurance company to pay you 100% for a brand new roof because you incurred some hail damage if your roof is 25 years old.  They’ll likely consider depreciation.

I also get asked a lot “will this make my rate go up?”  And the answer is, it depends on the claim.  Is it comprehensive or collision?  Were you at fault?  How much did the insurance company pay out? Etc…  Many people weigh the cost and benefit of filing small claims, and sometimes choose to pay for damages themselves.  In general, it can be cost effective to save filing a claim for larger claims.