Home insurance and coronavirus | The bank rate
If your income has been affected by COVID-19, you may be looking for ways to offset the pressure of household expenses, including your home insurance payment. About a third of Americans was unable to pay off her rent or mortgage in full in July, a historic record for the country. Fortunately, there is some relief available by housing assistance fund. But for homeowners, these funds usually only cover mortgage payments, not ancillary expenses like home insurance premiums.
Besides making home insurance payments less affordable, the pandemic can affect your policy in other ways as well. If, like most Americans, your family is now spending a lot more time at home, you may need to update your coverage. If you have to file a claim, you will also see drastic changes in the way insurers run their business.
How does COVID-19 impact my home insurance coverage?
Major changes in daily activities during the coronavirus pandemic likely had an impact on the amount of home insurance you should purchase. If you are currently working from home for the foreseeable future, your home insurance policy may not cover all of your day-to-day risks. Most of the liabilities related to your business activities are not covered, including if a customer comes to your home and is injured. Computer theft and data loss that occurs due to exposure through a less secure home wireless network are also excluded from most home insurance policies.
Another important issue is the value of items kept in your home. If you or your kids brought high-value electronics like laptops home after school or work, you need to make sure your policy limit covers the value of all of those devices – and that there is no limitation that prevents owned device business from being covered. In addition to checking with your home insurance provider, you should also ask your employer to see what coverage is included in the company’s policies for remote employees.
If you previously rented your home as a long-term residence or vacation property and were unable to do so due to the pandemic, you may be able to change your home insurance policy. However, if you choose to continue to rent the house, keep in mind that there is additional precautions necessary for everyone’s safety. Allow sufficient time between guests or tenants to thoroughly clean and sanitize the home and implement contactless check-in processes where possible.
File a claim during the pandemic
Many insurers have decided it is no longer safe to send adjusters to visit homes in person, when COVID-19 poses a threat. Thanks to technology, most insurers have already switched to electronic claims in recent years. So you won’t have much to do differently during this part of the process. If the company decides that more physical evidence of the claim is needed, you will likely be asked to provide photos and videos where possible. Insurers will undoubtedly be more careful in deciding to send adjusters to physically visit your home, although this will depend on the type of loss. For example, an outside visit is safer to take under current conditions.
Home insurance inspections are a little harder to do virtually, so if you’re buying a home or getting a new policy, a home inspector might need to visit your home. Like a security measure, you will likely be asked to leave or remain isolated in a separate room for the duration of the inspection. Once the inspection is complete, you can expect a virtual review of the results and electronic delivery of the final report.
Since insurance companies could theoretically make decisions with less information than normal, some may err on the side of caution and pay claims with caution. If you get an estimate that you feel is inaccurate, don’t be afraid to dispute it and ask for a more in-depth assessment. You may also consider contacting an independent appraiser for a second opinion.
As a common theme, you can expect all processes to be slower than usual as long as social distancing measures are in place. Since most insurance employees still work from home, claims will take longer to be reviewed and processed. On top of that, repairs might take longer as these professionals follow their safety guidelines. Although it is frustrating to work with delays, remember to be more patient as the insurance company is working as quickly as possible to reach a fair resolution.
What to do if you can’t pay your monthly home insurance premium
If you’re having trouble paying your home insurance bill, the first step is to contact the company and explain the situation to them. Remember, you are not alone in the current financial crisis and most insurance companies are ready to help. However, falling behind without notifying your insurer could result in your policy being canceled, so the earlier you contact the better.
Many home insurers have already announced initiatives to help homeowners pay. Progressive performed over $ 1 billion in funds available through the Apron Relief Program, some of which has been allocated to billing leniency and premium credits for clients. Mutual Freedom automatically late fees waived on all payments until June 15, although the company still offers flexible payment alternatives for those who request one. Farmers offer extensions to allow homeowners to stay covered while extending their payment due date and waiving late fees.
State regulators have also recognized financial charges caused by COVID-19 and stepped in to make sure homeowners are protected. Regulations vary by state, but can include mandates that prevent insurers from dropping policyholders due to non-payment. Check with your local insurance department to find out what protections are currently in place in your area.