Understand Your Insurance Policies Before Disaster Strikes

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Anne Middleman’s home looks great now, but a few months back, she had to call a plumber to fix a broken water pipe under her floor. “He said, I think we’re going to have to dig up your floor in the kitchen.”

She immediately got on the phone to her insurance company. “I thought my homeowner’s policy covered anything, you know, something breaks, it’s covered,” Anne said. But she quickly discovered that’s not necessarily the case.

A recent insurance industry survey found many American’s don’t know if they have the right coverage.

Insurance experts Robert Rusbudt says understanding your policy is key, but it also helps to take photos of your home, inside and out. “It will go much faster if you can prove you had custom-built cabinets in your living room that were not there when you purchased the house,” he said.

If you need to make a claim, experts say stick to the facts. Do not try to explain what happened. “Your job is to tell the insurance company what the damage is and what you know so far about what you think it’s going to cost to fix it,” explained Amy Back of the United Policy Holders. “When you start getting into what you think might have caused it, you may run into trouble.”

Anne’s insurance paid for the damage to her kitchen, but she had to pay to replace the pipes. Her advice is to find out what’s covered by your policy before you need it. “Try looking at your policy. I was surprised.”

Experts say call your insurance company before you start fixing any damage to your home. If you have to fix something to prevent more damage, make sure you take pictures of the problem first.

  • jmr2

    Most people don’t realize that each year the insurance company changes the wording a little from “hurricane” to “named wind storm” to “wind storm”. Although you may have a deductible that you can afford, when it comes to “wind storm” you will find it is now a percentage deductible, such as 1%, 2%, 5%. It doesn’t seem like much but since the insurance uses the total value of your house, it can add up quickly. on a $250,000. house, that could add up to $2500.00, $5000.00 or $12,500.00. I don’t know about other people, but on a limited income, I don’t have $12,500.00 save for an insurance deductible. The insurance companies tell you the policy is “basically” the same, but it isn’t.

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