Even if you're not sure if you have a claim on your hands, it's probably worth giving your insurance company a call.
When to Call Your Homeowners Insurance Provider
Homeowners insurance is often one of those things you hope you’ll never have to use. Sure, it’s good to have coverage if a disaster hits your house, but it’s even better if no disaster happens. The best-case scenario would be if you could just buy your homeowners insurance and never think about it again.
Unfortunately, there are some situations where you should call your house insurance company. Knowing when it makes sense to pick up the phone can make a big difference in the long-term outcomes of your coverage.
Even if an incident hasn’t become an insurance claim, it may make sense to call your insurance company to let them know about it. Here are some common incidents that should trigger a phone call.
- A guest gets hurt while visiting you. You don’t need to pick up the phone every time one of your kid’s friends gets a paper cut, but if a guest sustains a more substantial injury, dial up your house insurance company. Why? Because most insurance includes medical expenses coverage specifically for these situations. If you eventually try to make a claim, it’s best that your insurance company knows about it sooner rather than later. That makes the claims process run more smoothly.
- Your home is damaged. If a tree falls through your roof, a pipe bursts, there’s a fire, or any other sort of property damage that your insurance policy covers, contact your insurance company. This kickstarts the claims process so you can get the problem fixed and get back to your life.
- You’re robbed or your house is vandalized. If this happens (and we hope it never does), call the police first. But once you’ve dealt with the criminal side of the issue, get in touch with your insurance company. The property insurance portion of your homeowners policy should cover repairs to property damaged by theft or robbery, so you’ll need to make a claim.
- You’re renovating! Whenever you make major changes to your house (updating your roof, building an addition, installing custom cabinetry), your insurance provider needs to know about it. You bought the policy for the house as it existed at the time of purchase; if and when the property changes, your insurance may need to be adjusted, too. The good news is some changes, like updating your roof, can actually save you money on premiums.
- You’re getting a trampoline or pool. Both of these features affect the risk profile of your home and may impact your coverage needs. The liability portion of your insurance offers payments if and when guests are injured at your house, so your insurance company needs to know if you’re adding features that make it easier for people to get injured – or easy to get more seriously injured.
- You started a business from home. This doesn’t just mean setting up a silk-screening operation in your basement. From an insurance company’s perspective, a home business is any activity that brings in revenue and operates out of your house: daycare, piano lessons, Airbnb hosting, consulting, etc. Most homeowners policies exclude coverage for business-related activities carried out on the homeowner’s property, so if you don’t update your coverage, you may be operating unprotected. Worse, you may void other parts of your policy just by operating the business. Ask your insurance company whether it can offer you a business owner’s policy or refer you to a company that can.
- You’re getting married (at your house). Or you’re hosting any major event there where people are drinking and celebrating. While most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for the damage a drunk guest might cause after leaving your home, the lines get fuzzy as the crowds get bigger. You may not need any additional coverage, but play it safe and talk to your insurance company before the big event. If your homeowners coverage isn’t up to the job, a special event policy should cover your big day.
Think of it this way: if something affects one of the major areas that your house insurance protects, it’s probably wise to loop in the insurance company. At worst, it will be a quick call. At best, you’ll save yourself from having a claim denied down the road because you didn’t update your policy in time.