Filing insurance claims, do you know your deductible?


Two representatives from Allstate Insurance stop in front of a house off Laroche Avenue. They’ve been sent here to start the claims process for Eric Brown.  When they get to his backyard, they realize why they were sent.  A huge tree sits on top of a converted garage.  Brown had been renting the apartment but not it’s in shambles.  He says thank goodness the tenant wasn’t home.

“I just want to get back to where I was. Hopefully, I can get back to where I was,” he tells the folks from Allstate.

He’s told an adjuster will be out next week to look at the structure and estimate the cost to replace it.  He’s also told he may be able to recover costs of clean up.

Brown asks about the cost of the deductible, knowing his policy has what’s known as a “hurricane deductible.”

“Every policy is going to be different and you pick your own deductible, so in many cases there are hurricane deductibles that come into play,” says Justice Therndon from Allstate.

In Brown’s case, his deductible is two percent of the value of his policy which is over $3,000.  That’s triple the $1,000 deductible many people have on regular homeowners’ insurance.

One local insurance agent told me that seven to eight years ago all major companies began writing clauses for hurricanes because of the immense cost in paying claims, especially along the coastline.

He told me if the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch or warning for a state (as it did in the case of “Matthew”) that the hurricane deductible then kicks in.

The agent told me there is “a lot of confusion and angst about that because not all homeowners realize this kind of deductible is in place even though it is in their policy.”

In the case of a hurricane deductible, the amount a homeowner pays is “a percentage of the total amount of coverage.”  For example: on a $200,000 insured value, if you have a 2% – then your deductible would be $4,000.  The agent also said that sometimes homeowners will raise that to 5% or even 10% to save money because of course the higher the deductible the lower your monthly premiums.  However, if someone ever has to make a claim, they then need to realize that the amount of their deductible may be higher than they realized.

It’s also important to note that most customers who have been with companies for years were grandfathered in so these hurricane deductibles likely do not apply.  However, there is one exception and that is if you move to a different address.  If that has happened within the last 7 to 8 years, then technically your company may consider that writing a new policy and the hurricane clause may indeed apply in your case.

For many with damage, the biggest things are 1) filing the claim and getting the process started. 2) Checking your policy and understanding what you truly do have to pay up front before insurance kicks in. 3) Saving all receipts of work.  4) Recognizing that thousands of claims will be filed in Georgia and South Carolina so some claims will take time to process.

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