Over the course of the past several weeks, the coronavirus has quickly earned the title of Public Enemy No.1 across the globe. Thousands of people across the nation are fighting this virus, and millions more are putting themselves at risk every single day on the medical frontlines. And all the while, those who can remain in their homes are patiently awaiting the day that their lives can resume to business as usual.
However, the existence of the coronavirus will not prevent natural disasters, like floods and fires, from causing physical damage to your property. Although it may seem as though things could not get any worse, a natural disaster can unfortunately still rear its ugly head at any given moment. Whether the damage is small or large, understanding how COVID-19 has temporarily affected homeowners’ insurance claims is crucial to getting the compensation that you deserve.
“Homeowners insurance is a type of financial protection that covers your home, personal belongings, and additional living expenses in the event the house is damaged or burglarized.” Many claims companies have adjusted their claims vetting processes of homeowners in response to the coronavirus. Prior to on-site visits, policyholders are being contacted and “are asked a series of questions to evaluate the risk” of in-person inspection.
Moreover, the virus has forced some claims companies to speed up their adoption and integration of certain consumer-facing technologies. A number have gone as far as providing policyholders deemed high-risk with self-service apps so that personal contact may be avoided. The digital process is not drastically different from having an adjuster visit your home to assess the damage: you report what happened and what was damaged, submit photos, videos, and/or police reports, file a claim, and eventually, get reimbursed. But homeowners should be prepared for delays, as insurance companies may still await an adjuster’s inspection prior to paying out a loss.
Guidelines vary by both carrier and location. Several carriers have halted all in-home visits, delaying inspections until further notice. Conversely, many carriers are still performing inspections, but have instructed their adjusters to wear gloves and masks during all in-home visits.
For those with carriers who have put a pause on in-home visits, it is imperative to refrain from disposing of “damaged items until after the adjuster signs off on them,” if possible. Additionally, if a carrier will not allow their adjuster to make in-home visits at this time, “it’s more important than ever that homeowners take pictures and videos with their cellphones” of the damage sustained to their property. Depending upon the nature of the damage, the pictures and videos sent to your insurance company may make it unnecessary for a the adjuster to enter your home. However, if damages in the interior of the home require inspection, it is advised to ensure that your adjuster is properly covered with a mask and gloves prior to his or her entry into your home.
Even though each carrier will respond differently to COVID-19, doing all that you can to collect and retain evidence of your property’s damages and losses, while keeping yourselves and your families safe, will help you to receive fair compensation. The longer the implications of the virus persist, the more insurance carriers and their policy adjusters will have to make changes to their claims vetting processes in order to properly serve their policyholders.
Howard, Pat. “Homeowners Insurance and Coronavirus (COVID-19).” Policygenius, 30 Mar. 2020, www.policygenius.com/homeowners-insurance/homeowners-insurance-and-coronavirus-covid-19/.
Samler, Harry. “How Homeowners Insurance Claims Have Changed during the Pandemic.” CBS46 News Atlanta, 13 Apr. 2020, www.cbs46.com/investigations/how-homeowners-insurance-claims-have-changed-during-the-pandemic/article_13150c9c-7dde-11ea-8a8c-4b26c8d63531.html.
Sams, Jim. “How Insurance Claims Pros Are Adjusting to Pandemic Complications.” Insurance Journal, 13 Apr. 2020 www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/04/15/564363.htm.