House Insurance – When to File a Claim

I have some damage to my home; should I file a claim?

Giving advice on claims is a very important aspect of an insurance broker’s job, and one that is sometimes hard to balance.  Technically, every loss the broker becomes aware of is supposed to be reported to the insurance company, but the broker also has an obligation to advise clients and look out for them.  Many times, clients will call regarding claims that are somewhat minor in nature and really are looking for advice and assistance… a recent example comes to mind that illustrates my point exactly.

A client of ours in Amherstburg, Ontario called in to report that his sump pump failed in the night and the pit overflowed.  The damage consisted of around 100 square feet of wet carpet, some wet furniture, and some household contents that were water damaged.  The client called in to see if the damage was covered and to ask what he should do.

In these instances, I find people are upset and generally over estimate how much actual damage there is.  I advised the client that any damage over his deductible was most likely covered and asked him, “How much damage is there?”  His answer, predictably, was “I don’t know.”  Ultimately, my advice was to try to clean up the damage himself and document the process by taking pictures, that way if the damage was minor we would not put in a claim, if it turned out to be something more serious, we could proceed with a claim.  After 3 or 4 hours of work the client determined a claim was not needed and he could clean up the damage himself with a shop vac.

Three months later I received another call from this same client. While he was at work, a water pipe in his home burst.  The burst pipe sprayed quite a lot of water between the floor and basement ceiling causing extensive damage.  This time, we decided to put in a claim as the damage was quite extensive and required professionals to come in to clean up, tear out, and replace the finishes of the home.

Thankfully this client took my advice. By not proceeding with the first claim, when his policy comes up for renewal, he would only be rated for having one claim. Had he made that first claim, a policy renewing with two water claims this close together could cause his premium to go up significantly or perhaps result in restrictions of coverage.  Since he has only had one claim, his renewal should not be affected.

Good thing he deals with Gibb Insurance.

If you have any questions about making a claim on your house insurance, please give us a call at 519-736-8228.

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