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February 13, 2013

Six ways to make your home insurer love you

By Linda Melone, InsWeb.com

Want to create a great relationship with your home insurer? Keep these six tips in mind to help ensure a stable future with the insurance company.

1. Keep track of all items in your home.

Your insurer would love it if you keep home inventory records on a memory stick or print them out, and store those records away from your home, says Rose Marshburn, a personal lines specialist with SIA Group, an insurance agency in North Carolina.

“Keep the inventory in a safe deposit box – or, better yet, provide a copy to your insurance agent. This makes filing a claim so much easier if the time comes,” Marshburn says.

Home inventories can be done by a homeowner – several apps are available to make the task easier – or by a professional home inventory company. For more information, visit the website of the National Association of Home Inventory Professionals.

2. Communicate with your agent or company.Home insurance tips

Communication is vital in any relationship, and your insurer is no exception. Always update your agent or your insurer if, for instance, you’ve just purchased some expensive electronics. You want to make sure your policy offers enough coverage for high-dollar items in your home.

3. Protect your property from further damage after filing a claim.

Relationships are a two-way street, but it’s up to you to protect your home if it’s been damaged and you’re waiting on repairs. To prevent further damage, make temporary fixes – such as boarding up broken windows to prevent rain from entering – and keep an accurate record of what you spent on them so you can be reimbursed, says Tim Dodge, a spokesman for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, a trade organization.

4. Be cooperative.

No one likes being stood up, including your insurer. After filing a claim, respond to phone calls, emails and requests for appointments and documents promptly, Dodge says. If your insurer can’t reach you, it slows down the claims process. If a claims adjuster doesn’t hear from you at all, he may close your file without your claim being paid, Dodge says.

5. Be prepared to show and tell.

If, for instance, your home has been damaged in a storm, be ready to produce any documents requested by your insurance company. This includes photos of and sales receipts for damaged belongings.

“If someone breaks into your house and takes your TV and computer, it’s helpful to have the receipts as proof of their value,” Dodge says.

6. Back up everything.

Technology helps modern-day relationships thrive, and that’s certainly the case with customers and insurers. In addition to maintaining detailed notes about any mishap, use technology such as your smartphone to keep voice memos if paper and pen aren’t available, insurance consultant Dan Weedin says. “Don’t rely on your memory,” he says.

Also, sign up for computer backup programs such as Carbonite or iCloud to make it easy to store, find and restore all of your insurance information quickly and reliably.


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