I’m always surprised by how many people won’t, or really don’t want to, file a claim on their auto or homeowner’s insurance. There is this fear that filing a claim means higher rates. Some even believe that it may cause their coverage to be cancelled come renewal time. In some instances, they may be right. But, the whole point of having insurance is to make you “whole” again after a loss.
Can Inquires Count Against You
There are two main databases the insurance companies use for reporting and researching claim behavior. These databases were originally created to track and prevent insurance fraud. However, now the insurance companies also use these to research claim history and determine rates and coverage. They generally maintain the information for up to seven (7) years.
Consumer groups have learned, and some have cautioned, that sometimes an insurance carrier submits a report to these databases even when it is just a claim inquiry, not an actual claim. (Some states have passed laws that regulate whether these inquires count as claims.) On the other side of the fence, we all know that someone — the one who refuses to file a claim at all, even though they suspect they have damage, “because they don’t want their rates to increase.”
When to Report a Claim
There are no general guidelines for when to file a claim. However, as a rule of thumb, if you file two claims in a three-year period, you might expect your rates to increase. This would also depend on the length of time you have been with the company and the cause of the claims. If the claims occurred as a result of weather or other catastrophe, this usually does not result in higher rates.
I was surprised to learn that the leading cause of homeowner claims filed are as a result of dog bites. Many insurance companies actually keep a list of dog breeds that are considered higher risk (and you might even find it hard to obtain coverage if you own one of these breeds). A single claim filed in this loss category will most likely result in a rate increase or possible cancellation.
Hire a Claim Professional
Hiring an attorney or other claim professional on a contingency fee basis means being able to pursue your claim for a full resolution. Find a claim professional today at Claimside.com.