Written by: Andy
June 22, 2021
In the event of a fire, you will need to file a rental property insurance claim as soon as possible. Understanding the claims process will help you save a lot of time and hassle. However, filing a rental property insurance claim is not too different from filing other types of insurance claims. So just as any other sort of claim, if you don’t follow the filing process correctly, you risk underpayment or even possibly claim denial.
Report Damages or Losses to Your Landlord
One of the first calls you need to make is to your landlord. Notify them immediately about any damages or losses to the rental property. In most states, reporting these losses is mandatory or at the very least, a typical lease requirement. Your landlord may also be liable for repairing broken doors, windows, or any other damage to the unit, so they could be an essential part of the restoration process.
File a Police Report Before Filing your Rental Property Insurance Claim
In the event of a theft, vandalism, and/or burglary, you’ll need to contact the police as soon as possible. In fact, filing a police report is typically required in order to file a rental property insurance claim. Additionally, a police report will establish additional proof to show your rental property insurance company. It could also help the claims process run smoother. Moreover, be sure to get the names of any police officers you speak with. However, keep in mind that damages like a pet accident or a leaky roof, doesn’t warrant a police report.
Contact Your Rental Insurance Company to File your Rental Property Insurance Claim
First and foremost, contact your rental property insurance company immediately after property damage or loss. For one thing, you want repairs to begin as soon as possible. Furthermore, you should also be aware that almost every insurance company has a deadline for filing a claim. This is typically between 48 to 72 hours after the damage or loss happened. Ask your agent exactly how long you have to file your claim so that there will be no surprises.
Make the claims process smoother by having the following items available before you call:
- your policy number
- details about the damage, including when and around what time it occurred
- a phone number to easily reach you
Mitigate Damage: Safeguard Your Home and Belongings
Another primary step you need to take after contacting your insurer is to make sure that your belongings and the home are safe after a disaster. Board up broken windows, put up roof tarps or make any other necessary repairs to mitigate damage. Be certain to keep all maintenance and repair receipts. Some insurance companies offer coverage or monetary compensation for this type of work. If you fail to take these precautions, you risk claim denial, underpayment or suffering further damage your insurance won’t cover.
If you can’t make these repairs right away, or if you have security concerns, make temporary living arrangements. However, remain certain to keep record of all additional living expenses. Some rental property insurance companies cover temporary living expenses while the repairs process takes place. Go over your policy to see if your insurance covers this type of situation. This is usually referred to as “loss of use.”
Document Your Losses before Filing your Rental Property Insurance Claim
A very important step to filing your rental property insurance claim is to document your losses. Make sure you video or take as many photos you can of everything damaged. For instance, if fire damaged your items, be as detailed as possible. Note each and every item and add as many before and after pictures as you can. Furthermore, don’t throw any of the damaged items away until a claims adjuster has inspected your property. If a claims adjuster is not necessary, your insurance company will let you know how to proceed. Until you are certain, keep all of your belongings and develop your personal inventory sheet. Preferably, you’ll have an updated inventory list on hand at all times.
A detailed written home inventory is useful for several reasons. First, having a list of your damaged or lost possessions will help you file a claim faster and more accurately. Secondly, your insurer will be able to determine the replacement cost of your damaged or lost items in the same fashion.
Complete a Rental Property Insurance Claims Form (insurance claims process guide)
After you have your inventory completed, it’s time to file a claim. A claims agent will likely contact you shortly once you’ve called the rental property insurance company. It’s extremely important you document every detail on your claims form. For higher value items or bigger losses, a claims adjuster will probably come to your home for inspection. Be sure to have all documentation, expenses, receipts, and if applicable, a police report in hand.
Once you submit your claim, your rental property insurance company will start the investigation process. The amount of time it takes to get your claim dealt with will depend on how extensive your damages or losses are. In fact, some claims may only take a few hours while others can take much longer. However, insurance companies do have law imposed timelines to deal with claims.
Filing a Rental Property Insurance Claim
Filing a claim requires you to provide a lot of information to the rental property insurance company.
Rental property insurance is a policy that provides some of the benefits of homeowners’ insurance, but does not include coverage for the dwelling, or structure. This type of insurance covers stolen personal belongings, vandalized or destroyed, or even if you incur liability from someone getting injured in your home.
However, depending on the type of rental property insurance claim, you will need different types of documents. You submit this information to the carrier and the insurer will make an assessment about its obligation to you.
When your insurance company approves your claim, the rental property insurance company will issue a payout. Nevertheless, in many cases, you’ll have to hit a deductible. This is a dollar amount you have to pay on any claim before the carrier pays the rest. Moreover, the rental property insurance company will likely pre-establish a maximum amount for the payout of certain claims. These are limits of liability.
How to file a Rental Property Insurance Claim
Check with your rental property insurance company’s website or agent to determine what documents you need for submitting a claim. In fact, with some insurance companies you may be able to scan documents and photographs, and submit them directly through the site. Regardless, more advanced claims may take additional steps.
As aforementioned, you’ll need to give all the details regarding the cause of the claim as well as your policy number. Equally important is to have your policy at hand. In fact, reading your policy beforehand, will help you decide whether you even need to file a claim at all.
Sometimes, a claim’s deductible is so high that it would be more cost-effective to simply pay for the loss out of pocket. You may also want to avoid filing a claim if you’ve already filed too many claims in a short period of time. This could cause your insurer to revoke your coverage, as well as increase your premium cost if you’re at fault for the loss.
Types of rental property insurance claims you can file:
- property damage
- property loss
- liability claim.
All three have in common the following steps to follow:
- Call the fire department or police department in cases of fire, flooding or theft/vandalism.
- Don’t forget to obtain a copy of the police report
- Take notes and pictures of the damage.
- Call your insurance company as soon as possible. If necessary, also submit a claim
- Fill out any documentation sent from your insurer right away
- Wait for the adjuster
Property Damage Rental Property Insurance Claim
If a home disaster destroys your belongings, you will need to file a property damage claim. This is the essence of a rental property insurance policy. First, you should consult your policy to be sure of what is covered and what isn’t.
Second, it’s very important you take careful records of the damaged property. Claims processes are usually smoother if you have a clear idea of the damage and it’s approximate value. In fact, if the case is clear and the damage evident, the insurance adjuster could even write up a check on the spot. Of course, this would be once they assess the damages themselves. If something is unclear during the first inspection, they may take some more time to deliberate on the payout.
As discussed before, do address any lingering issues like a broken window or exposed part of the structure. Costs associated with damage mitigation repairs are likely included in the settlement. Contact your agent or your policy to find out if your coverage for damage mitigation.
Property Loss Rental Property Insurance Claim
A property loss rental property insurance claim covers stolen property from either outside or inside your home. This type of claim follows all of the steps above. However, for property loss claims it’s very important to make sure you and your insurance agent obtain a copy of the police report. Sometimes, theft claims don’t offer physical evidence like property damage claims do. For this reason, it is easier for adjusters to doubt the authenticity of your claim.
An official police report gives your claim legitimacy. File your claim as soon as possible. Delay between when the crime happened and when you file your claim, can cast doubt over the whole thing.
Liability Rental Property Insurance Claim
A liability rental property insurance claim covers a third party who has suffered a loss in your property. This is the most different of the three claims. After the injury or damage occurs, it is important to take notes of the loss, when it happened, how it happened, as well as noting any witnesses.
If the accident happened in your home, the damaged person will file a claim against your insurer. After filing the claim, your company will assign an adjuster who will investigate the case. The adjuster will collect evidence and statements from witnesses and fill out a report. If the adjuster determines you are at fault for the accident, your insurance company will then try to reach a settlement with the person who filed the claim. If the claimant refuses to accept the settlement, they could then decide to file a lawsuit.
Regardless, your insurance company will not drop your case and proceed to provide you with a lawyer. All of the associated legal fees will be paid for and if you lose the case, your liability insurance will pay for the settlement.
Filing a Claim Without Receipts
Most renters do not have meticulous records for all the receipts of all the things they own. Luckily, this is not necessary. Pictures are usually the best proof of what of damage. Furthermore, adjusters usually have a good idea of the relative costs of certain items. They are also well trained and adept in identifying fraud. If your case is legitimate, you shouldn’t worry about them mistakenly thinking you’re trying to defraud them.
However, it would be extremely beneficial to have some sort of record of the purchases of the items. Especially, if the claim involves out of the ordinary property. For instance, a set of very expensive bed sheets. A credit card statement from the sale should suffice if receipts aren’t available.
What if your Insurer Denies your Claim?
After a claim denial, the best thing to do is remain calm and find out the reason for the claim denial. Most claims are not denied. Regardless, the majority of denied claims are cases where the policy doesn’t cover the cause of the damage. The only solution in these cases is to hire some sort of counsel to fight for your case. However, if you are confident your claim is valid, and there is a lot of money on the line, consider hiring a lawyer or public adjuster.
Other common issues are determining who your policy covers. Unless you are married to, related to or specifically added to the person that caused the damage to the policy, the claim will be denied. If you are behind on your monthly payments as well, your company may deny your claim until you square your debt.
Reasons for Your Rental Property Insurance Claim Denial
1. You haven’t met your deductible.
Your policy declaration sheet outlines your deductible. For example, if you only have $600 in damage, but your deductible is $1,000, then the claim makes no sense. However, if you do suffer more damage during the same year, you can add up the amount to the $600 from your previous damage and therefore have your claim covered. Remember, there may be different deductibles for different types of claims.
2. Your rental property insurance policy doesn’t cover the damage your are claiming.
This could apply to certain high-value items or medical payments to a third party. Your rental property insurance policy will spell out your coverage in thorough detail.
3. You took too long to file your rental property insurance claim.
Rental property insurance companies have a filing deadline after the damage occurs. However, every policy is different, so make sure you clarify with your representative.
4. You don’t have enough corroborating evidence to support your rental property insurance claim
For more extensive damage, the rental property insurance will likely need to conduct a full investigation of the incident. Oftentimes, you’ll have to provide evidence of ownership of the property you claim to have lost. Receipts or proofs of purchase, will do. Without them, claim denial could happen.
5. You’re committing fraud on your rental property insurance claim.
Don’t try to file a claim on property you never owned. Insurance adjusters are well trained to identify fraud.
6. The damage falls under your landlord’s homeowners insurance instead of your rental property insurance claim.
Rental property insurance doesn’t cover damage to the building itself. Your landlord’s homeowners insurance covers this. Report any damage to the structure to the landlord so his or her insurance will cover it. If that damage leads to the loss of your own property, or you’re forced to leave your home because of it, your renters insurance will pick up the bill for the property itself or your alternative accommodations.
7. The landlord is responsible for the loss or damage
If your landlord is responsible for your damage and loss, it’s possible your insurer denies your claim. For instance, if your landlord failed to repair faulty wiring which in turn caused a fire which damaged your couch, then your landlord may be liable for the damage incurred.
8. The damages were intentional
Although rare, in some cases people plan damages in order to replace their belongings. In other instances, intentional horseplay resulted in property damage. Rental’ insurance companies are extremely thorough when investigating claims, and if the damage wasn’t accidental and unintentional, the claim is usually not honored.
Best way to beat the insurance company is to hire AllCity Adjusting
At AllCity Adjusting we help residential and commercial clients alike get the claims support they need. Moreover, we have over 50 years of combined experience helping get our clients the max settlement time and time again. If your claim has been low balled or denied entirely we can help increase your maximum settlement. Call us today for a FREE consultation. Experience the AllCity difference.
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