Post written by Cody Swanson, Insurance Agent, Stockman Insurance
Covered in water, dirt, paint, bits of plaster, Nancy and Jordan scraped what used to be their bathroom ceiling out of the tub, sink, toilet and floor.
A massive snowfall and spring melt, so common with Montana’s late winter-early spring weather patterns, sent water through the roof of their newly purchased home, collapsing the bathroom ceiling.
As they scrambled to stop the leak and make the bathroom usable for their teenage kids, Jordan glanced over at Nancy, forced a smile and said, “Well, at least we have good homeowners insurance.”
However, all smiles faded two days later after the insurance adjuster’s visit. The couple’s homeowner’s insurance policy paid for some of the expense to fix the bathroom, but not all of it, and it paid nothing for the damage to the couple’s roof.
Sound familiar? How many times have you heard people complain that they had a claim and things they thought were covered weren’t or they thought they should have been paid more? What does your adjuster know that you don’t, and how could the couple have avoided this situation?
Surprisingly, the insurance adjuster’s most powerful tool in assessing your claim isn’t a secret—it’s the insurance policy.
This imposing document, written in an unintelligible language, is the adjuster’s bible when evaluating your claim. In Nancy and Jordan’s case, the adjuster determined that the roof was in poor condition from years of neglect prior to the snow-melt that caused ceiling collapse.
The moral of the story– an insurance policy doesn’t function as a warranty, and the owner of the house is responsible for keeping up with repairs to mitigate major damage.
Although the policy is a daunting document, it’s imperative that you understand it before disaster strikes. You should look at your insurance coverage in four key areas:
- The structure of your house.
- Your belongings.
- Your liability to others.
- Your living expenses if you’re forced out.
If there’s a disaster, you want to be able to repair your house and replace everything in it. And you need enough liability coverage to protect your assets in case you get sued. Living expenses would cover the cost of making the house livable or living elsewhere while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
The most important thing to have is a good agent who can walk you through what’s covered, what’s not covered, and who can help you determine how much coverage you need.