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DES PLAINES, Ill., June 21 -- The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America issued the following news release:
As officials allow some Colorado residents back into the wildfire areas, there are important steps homeowners can take to begin the recovery and insurance claims process, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
"Although losing a home and personal belongings can be overwhelming, the good news is that by working with your insurance company, there are things you can do to ease the recovery process," said Kelly Campbell, vice president for PCI. "Homeowners insurance is a partnership and the sooner you contact your insurance company or agent, the sooner you can start returning your life to normal. Insurers are ready to work with policyholders to help them understand the claims settlement process and offer customer assistance. "
By following these four steps you can take positive actions that will speed up the claims process:
Step One: Contact Your Insurer and File a Claim. Filing a claim gets an insurance adjuster from your company assigned to you. If a home is uninhabitable after a covered loss, the Additional Living Expenses (ALE) provisions of a typical policy will help the homeowner find temporary housing white the home is rebuilt. Homeowners should keep all receipts for hotels and restaurants for reimbursement. ALE does not cover all living expenses, but it does cover the increase over normal living expenses. Homeowners should continue paying their mortgage and property taxes on their home.
Step 2: Make a Home Inventory. Homeowners with a total loss should begin making lists of their personal belongings in each room so your adjuster can understand what needs to be replaced," said Campbell. "Go room by room and write down furniture, accessories, electronic equipment, kitchen housewares, clothing, jewelry, linens and toiletries.
Step 3: Work Closely with the Claims Adjuster. Public adjusters are independent business people that have no relationship with your insurer. These individuals may solicit homeowners after these fires. For a fee, a public adjuster will help a homeowner document the loss, schedule inspections and negotiate a settlement. It is important to understand that the fee to pay the independent adjuster comes out of the settlement provided by the insurer.
Your company adjuster will walk you through the claims process, answer questions, estimate the damage to your property and fairly and promptly settle your claim. Regular communication with your adjuster will make the settlement process move efficiently and smoothly. The adjuster will work with the homeowner and their contractor to develop a scope of work. This is a detailed building plan used to reconstruct the home. The adjuster will use the previous floor plan, square footage and interior finishes like carpet, counter tops, cabinetry and plumbing. Homeowners with a replacement cost policy will cover the cost of rebuilding the house with materials of like, kind and quality subject to limits and terms of the policy.
Step 4: Understand your Coverage and Ask Plenty of Questions. It is important to understand the separate types of coverage under a policy. ALE will cover temporary living expenses during rebuilding process. Coverage A covers the cost of rebuilding the home. Coverage B covers detached structures like a garage and is generally a percentage of the Coverage A limit. Coverage C covers the contents and personal possessions in the home and is generally a percentage of the Coverage A limit.
As the rebuilding process gets under way homeowners will hear different terms like Coverage A and Coverage B. Homeowners need to understand the type of policy they have and which expenses are paid for under what coverages. There are two kinds of policies: A replacement cost policy will generally repair or replace damage personal property. While an actual cash policy only provides reimbursement for the depreciated value of covered personal property. Homeowners should always be comfortable to ask questions and don't be afraid to talk to a supervisor within your insurance company. The Colorado Department of Insurance is available to answer questions or assist with a claim. Consumers should know their rights and what resources are available.
PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $190 billion in annual premium, 40 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 46 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 32 percent of the homeowners market, 38 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41 percent of the private workers compensation market.
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