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Learn when to file an Insurance Claim
Here are some things to consider before filing an Insurance Claim

Before submitting a claim to your insurance company for your home or auto, you as the insured should think before immediately reaching for the phone.  One should first assess the damage to make sure that the damage is going to materially exceed your deductible. This may take a trip to your local body shop for an estimate, or getting a professional repair person out to the house for an analysis of the damage.  Generally, the time spent in your research may save you hundreds in increased insurance costs.  If the following two conditions are present then there is no claim basis for the repair of your property; the damage to your auto is less than your collision deductible, and this is a single vehicle accident with no public property damage. However, if there was another vehicle involved with damage or bodily injury, then you should always file a claim.   You want your version of the events on record, and your insurance company needs to know promptly about this accident.

In Texas most cities now follow this procedure.  If your car is drivable and there are no injuries, the police will not respond to the accident to complete a report.   The police dispatcher that you are talking with will advise you to move your vehicles to a safe place and exchange insurance information.  When exchanging the information ask to see physical proof of insurance and driver’s license.  Do not trust unverified information, as it will probably be bogus.  Have the other person call your cell number and leave you a message, so that you will have a verifiable phone number.  Additionally, write down the license plate number of the other vehicle to be able to verify the registered owner if needed.

If your car is not drivable or you are not sure of its driving condition, tell the police that you are not sure of its drivability and it may need to be towed.   Remember, since the police officer is not an eye witness to the accident, the report is just a summary of information gained by the officer and is not considered a valid determination of who is at fault.  The officer may indicate on the report that in his opinion there were factors by one or more drivers that contributed to the accident.  There is one major importance of a filed police report; in the presence of a police officer generally each party will be truthful about what happened in the accident, and the incident will now be recorded.   When there is no report filed, often the story changes and becomes convoluted.   Then insurance adjusters with varying sides to the accidents will generally trust the word of their insured, and may deny your claim based on fictitious or lack of provable information.  You should always collect the name of independent and unbiased eye witnesses that can verify the account of the claim.   Technology now equips almost every one of us with a powerful tool, the cellular phone with movie and sound recording capability.  Immediately after an accident has occurred, check to make sure that no one is injured.  Then, before any vehicle is moved from the scene try to video record the location of all vehicles.  Interview the other driver on video especially when that driver is admitting that they are at fault.

The violent spring storms of Texas can bring about unusual damage to your beautiful home.  When damage occurs take all necessary precautions to protect your home against additional damage.  Boarding up broken windows, putting up tarpaulins over missing shingle areas, drying up saturated carpet may be necessary in a catastrophic event.  Keep your receipts for supplies and/or contractor labor as your expenditures are reimbursable.  Remember to use your cell phone or camera, and take pictures of the damage to the building and contents.

If you think that you have hail damage, before you call in a claim, call a local roofer who will be more than happy to come inspect the property at no expense to the homeowner.  Many times the contractor will perform temporary patch jobs at little or no expense, providing that his company is in the running for the new roofing job.  When choosing a roofing contractor, rely on your agent for recommendations.   Too many homeowners have been hoodwinked by shoddy workmanship and find out later that their roofing contractor was nowhere to be found.  Qualified roofers will be insured for general liability, workers comp, and vehicle liability. You should always ask for a certificate of insurance.  If a roofer isn’t insured, that is clearly an indication of his company’s character.

My favorite coined phrase is: “It’s never a problem until it’s a problem”.  Fifteen years ago, it was uncommon to find a policy that had a higher deductible than $250.00 for all damages covered on a home insurance policy.  Today in Texas, almost all companies now require that the deductible on wind, hail and wind driven rain be no less than 1% of the dwelling coverage amount.  The average dwelling coverage at our agency is well in excess of $275,000. This would make the deductible $2,750.  Most homeowners know that they have a large deductible.  Although, they don’t realize the deductible has risen to the extent that it has due to the increase in dwelling value over the last few years.  Minor wind or hail storms may not cause damage to your roof that exceeds the deductible.  Therefore, have a contractor check the extent of your damage before filing an unnecessary claim.

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