Covid-19 and Your Homeowner’s Insurance
The real estate industry has not seen anything like this pandemic in our lifetimes. As each state works to provide protections and guidelines to maintain their housing, another industry is also seeing changes; but it is not necessarily covered by the above protections.
Clearly those having difficulty making monthly mortgage and rental payments are probably having equally as difficult a time making their home insurance premium payments. And with most spending more time at home, you might not even have the correct coverage anymore.
There are two sides of the pandemic coin when it comes to homeowner’s insurance. There are less incidents and claims as people are at home and able to deter or address issues quicker. On the flip side,the pandemic stress and economic recession could increase insurance fraud and claims that are made might come from previously never heard of events like neighborhood civil unrest.
All of that is a long way of saying that, in the immediate future, there is no surety on what will happen and how rates and filings will be affected. So, it is in your best interest to review your policy and think of some of the items below:
If you are currently working from home and didn’t previous to Covid-19, your policy might not cover all of your day-to-day risks. Think of clients coming to your home instead of your office or cyber theft and data loss because your home internet connection is less secure than your business. Many of these things are not covered on your pre-2020 policy, so it would be worthwhile to review the coverage and see what changes are needed.
Another item of value to review is the coverage for electronics and furnishings in your home. If your children are all schooling at home, they probably received a laptop or computer device from their school. Perhaps you moved your work computer from a building to your home. Are there limitations in your policy that would not cover business or school-owned devices? Ask your employer and school what coverage they provide or what the policy is for remote working and schooling and what gap you need to fill.
You also might have to modify your policy if you own a second or vacation property and have been unable to rent or use as previous years. In the event you are still participating in short term rentals, leave plenty of time in between guests or tenants to thoroughly clean and disinfect the home.
Additionally, if you do need to file a claim, expect for it to be different as well. It is no longer as safe to send an adjustor out to a home. The reliance on technology is compounded. If physical evidence is needed, be prepared to provide photos and videos wherever possible. There is the possibility they will try to err on the side of caution based on those photos and videos, so if you don’t believe the estimate is accurate, don’t be afraid to dispute it and ask for further investigation. And be prepared for the entire claim process to take longer. You are not the only one working from home and the infrastructure work flow for many businesses is impacted because of that.
Finally, if you have experienced financial hardship because of the pandemic, be sure to see how your state and local area can assist. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has asked all states to implement continuity plans for consumers. Most companies are willing to make arrangements if you reach out and explain the situation. This is truly one time that we are all in this together.