Even if an incident hasn’t become an insurance claim, it may make sense to call your insurance provider to let them know about it. Here are some common incidents that should trigger a phone call.
Your home is damaged
This is an easy one because covering damage to your home is what home insurance is all about. 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.
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.
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 vandalism, so you’ll need to make a claim.
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
Trampolines and swimming pools are just two exampes of features insurance companies consider attractive nuisances, and they can affect your home's risk profile 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 home-based business
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.