Make a flood insurance claim? Here’s what you need to know
EXPLAINER: Dozens of Canterbury households have seen floodwaters make unwanted entry into their homes, and sometimes into cars.
Two to three months of rain have hit Canterbury in recent days, causing significant and extensive flooding.
Once the water has receded, households are faced with the ordeal of tidying up and restoring their homes.
Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens has advice for people facing the task of rehabilitating their homes.
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They involve policyholders doing their utmost to document damage to their homes and property to ensure insurance claims go as smoothly as possible.
Stevens said people whose homes and property were damaged in the flooding should register the damage before cleaning up.
“It’s only natural to want to start the cleaning process immediately,” Stevens said.
“However, we urge people to take a moment and contact their insurers, and register the damage first,” she said.
“Take photos or videos of your damaged home and belongings. Make a list of all damaged items before you get rid of them, ”she says.
Evidence gathered in this way can make it easier for people to prove their claims and establish their ownership of the assets they claimed for the damages suffered.
DO NOT THROW AWAY DAMAGED OBJECTS
There was a natural tendency to get rid of damaged items immediately, Stevens said.
“We have dealt with a number of insurance-related complaints over the years where people rolled up their sleeves and walked in immediately, cleaning and throwing items away.
“Later in the insurance claim process, this can cause problems in proving damage,” she said.
She recalled a case in which an owner threw out damaged items and made a long list of everything that had been disposed of.
“The insurer had the right to say, ‘You have to give us something better than the list,’” Steven said.
The burden of proving a loss lies with the policyholder, which includes proving that he actually owned the property for which he is claiming.
SIGN UP WITH YOUR INSURER
“Ask for what you need for your claim and have your insurer confirm it in writing,” Stevens said.
“Make sure you know what you are and what you’re not covered for. If you don’t understand, ask questions, ”she said.
One of the shocks people faced after an event like a flood or a burglary was finding that all of their damaged or stolen items were not covered on a “new for old” replacement basis, but rather on a replacement basis. its “compensation value,” Stevens said.
Compensation value was the second-hand value of an item, the time before it was damaged.
This could mean that an insured received less money to replace their damaged items than they would need to purchase new replacement items.
“A lot of people expect them to have a ‘replacement’ policy, that everything be replaced at the value they would have to pay to get a new replacement,” Stevens said.
She also recommended that people read their insurance policies, as they might find they were covered for losses they were not aware of.
Insurers have their policy documents posted on their websites.
“If you cannot return home, contact your insurer to inquire about temporary accommodation coverage, as part of your housing or content policy,” Stevens said.
People had to make the necessary repairs to avoid further losses for their insurer, Stevens said.
But they shouldn’t make “non-essential” repairs without first talking to their insurer.
Insurers might have a different take on things homeowners consider reasonable actions, like tearing up a soggy carpet, she said.
RESPECT THE STRICT TRUTH
While it’s rare, people have sometimes fabricated evidence, Stevens said.
It was a very stupid thing to do, she said, and it could lead to their entire claim being “avoided” by their insurer.
She recalled cases of people creating proof of item ownership in an attempt to facilitate the claims process.
“We have often encountered cases where people create lists (of stolen or damaged items), but have no proof of purchase, and they make the really stupid decision to forge an invoice,” Stevens said.