If your home has recently fallen victim to a natural disaster, you almost certainly assume that your homeowner's insurance (after deductible) will pay for necessary repairs. Unfortunately, in many cases it's unclear which part of the disaster was responsible for which portion of the damage -- and in some areas, coverage for certain events (such as flood or earthquake) is not standard. Read on to learn more about what you can do when neither your standard nor any specialty types of insurance are willing to cover damage to your home.
What types of event coverage are generally billed separately?
Like auto insurance, homeowner's insurance is available at several levels. The first is the most basic insurance -- it covers structural damage to your home caused by a naturally-occurring event, like a storm that causes a downed tree, or a tornado that rips off your siding. You can also purchase insurance that will protect you from liability for others who are injured while on your property.
However, there are certain types of natural disasters -- flood and earthquake are the most common -- that are not necessarily covered by your standard homeowner's policy. In some tornado-prone areas, wind coverage is also billed separately. Therefore, it's important to carefully look over your insurance policy to ensure that you're adequately protected against all situations that may arise.
Does separate disaster coverage guarantee that your bills will be paid?
If you purchase specialty coverage, you may still run into issues when it comes time to submit a claim. Often, the cause of damage is unclear. For example, if an earthquake causes your foundation to crack, allowing water to seep in -- should this be covered by earthquake or flooding insurance? These types of disputes are particularly common when water damage is involved.
What should you do if there is a coverage dispute?
Fortunately, your insurance company such as Insurance Service of Sarasota has several resources that can help assist you in resolving a dispute between insurers. Your first step should be to ask to speak to a supervisor -- often, a situation can be easily resolved, but simply isn't capable of being addressed by the customer service representative to whom you are speaking.
If a supervisor at your insurance agency is unable to assist you, you may wish to request to speak with someone in the arbitration or mediation department. Through this process, you'll be able to meet with an insurance representative face-to-face to negotiate a resolution that is satisfactory to both of you.
If you've escalated the dispute at your insurance company to no avail, your next step should be to file an official complaint with your state insurance regulatory agency. These agencies employ independent investigators who are often able to help you resolve a claim to your satisfaction.