Insurance is a contract between two parties, the insured and the insurance company. Both sides have certain obligations that they must meet to maintain the integrity of the contract. This article will discuss the duties of the insured in the event of a loss.
There are four main duties that all insurance customers must follow at the time of a loss. For learning purposes we will use the example of roof damage to a home that leaves the interior of the home exposed. In this instance, and all others, the insured must do four things: separate, protect, inventory, and notify.
Lets start with notify. At the time of a loss it is the insured's responsibility to notify the insurance company in a timely fashion. This does not mean a week later. The term notify is used loosely but you will want to contact your agent or broker as soon as possible. You might ask: But what if I'm on vacation? There are no excuses for not notifying your company of damages to your home. If you fail to meet this requirement and wait a week to contact someone about the damaged roof, and excessive interior damage occurs as a result, you have violated the contract and made it much harder to have your loss completely covered.
Things happen when you're on vacation or out of town. That's why we have implemented a comprehensive Emergency Contact Program for all of our customers.
After you have notified your insurance company your next obligation is to protect any undamaged items from the elements. In the case of roof damage, you may have to contact someone to put a tarp on the roof–even if its 5 o'clock in the morning. Don't worry about the cost, it will most likely be included as a covered expense. If you fail to protect your home from any further damage, you have violated the rules of the contract.
Next you want to take an inventory of the damage. Write down anything that looks damage and also note things that seem to be unharmed. Be as detailed as possible. We recommend you snap a view photos of the case at hand. This will show the insurance company that your trying to help out and may help by forming a favorable opinion for yourself. Again this is required by contract so take the time to do it.
Last but not least its time to separate the damaged from undamaged. This should be self explanatory. Take the time to separate any unharmed items from the damaged items during your inventory process.
Following these rules will ensure a fast, and efficient claims process. It may also put you in a favorable position with your adjuster. Showing that you have played an active part in preventing further losses for you and your insurance company is an admirable deed–and it is also required by law.