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Home Insurance

• The 17 Perils
• Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost
• Understanding Deductibles
• Documentation of Valuables
• Expanding Coverage
• Floaters for the Finer Things
• Flood Insurance
• Insuring a Home
• Liability Coverage
• The Basics of Homeowners Insurance
• Cover Yourself with an Umbrella Liability Policy
• Insuring a Condominium
• Special Circumstances: Property Under Construction and Rental Property
• Renters Insurance
Auto Insurance

• On the Move: Insurance Protection for Your Automobile and Other Vehicles
• Auto Insurance Basics: Liability, Collision, Comprehensive
• Additional and Optional Coverages
• Who's At Fault?
• Premiums and Discounts: Factors that Affect Your Rate
• What To Do After an Accident
• Getting Your Car Back
• Using Your Personal Car for Business
• Risky Drivers
• Adding a Teen or College-bound Driver
• Motorcycle Insurance
• Watch the Hull: Insurance for Boats and Other Watercraft
• Specialty Policies Insure Fun
• Aviation Insurance
Risk Management

• Term Life Insurance
• Whole Life Insurance
• Universal Life Insurance
• Variable Life Insurance
• Auto Insurance
• Insurance Claims
• Maximizing Insurance Benefits
• Protecting Your Home
• Assessing Disability Insurance
• Types of Health Care
• Additional Liability Coverage
• HMOs and PPOs
• Evaluating Insurance Companies
• Long-Term-Care Costs
• Medicare Coverage

Insurance Claims

As good a system as insurance is, it isnt perfect. Masses of people, mountains of paper and myriads of problems must be processed daily and hourly by the best of companies. Everything seems to go smoothly as long as all you have to do is pay your premiums. But when it comes time to file even a small claim, you are treated as an adversary.

You can still make the system work. You just have to take a few steps to make your position clear. Dont be afraid to challenge any denial or unfair settlement.

Preventative Measures

Read your contract carefully. Plan to spend a quiet hour studying it. Learn specifically what is not covered.

Take an inventory of your belongings. Keep it in your safe-deposit box. Include:

 •  Descriptions of possessions that matter to you. List the makes and model numbers of electronic equipment and appliances.
 •  Photographs or a videotape showing the condition and quality of your valuables.
 •  Appraisals of expensive items such as antiques, artwork, furs, and jewelry.
 •  Receipts documenting purchase prices. Canceled checks or charge card statements can be substituted.

When Trouble Strikes

File a complete and accurate claim. Take your time and fill out everything the way the insurance company wants it.

 •  File a police report. Your claim may be denied if you dont.
 •  Write a detailed account of the incident immediately after it occur so that you dont forget any information.
 •  Take photos of the damage.
 •  Telephone your agent and send him or her a copy of the police report. Follow his or her instructions on how to prevent further damage.

Disagreements

If the insurance companys offer seems low, request a written explanation of how it was calculated. An attorney can sometimes help. For a modest fee, legal intervention might persuade your insurer to raise the offer rather than incurring further legal expenses.

There are three types of disputes you are most likely to win:

 •  Ambiguously worded clauses. The courts often find in favor of the policyholder if the language of the contract can easily be misinterpreted.
 •  Offers based on substandard repair estimates. If you feel that the shop whose quote your company accepts does poor work, get several other estimates to prove theirs is low.
 •  Offers that ignore pertinent information. If you can prove that your car is much more valuable than the Blue Book or NADA figure, you might be able to negotiate a better settlement.

It may seem frustrating to satisfy so many requirements to get your company to honor your claim, but think of both sides. You wouldnt want your company to leave itself open to abuses. It could eventually fail and your policy would be worthless. Sometimes the rules seem to get in the way, but they were actually designed to protect you.

© 2003 Emerald Publications
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