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Coronavirus and Your Home Insurance: A Practical Guide
States across the country are issuing shelter-in-place orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means you’re probably spending a lot more time than usual at home. As you do your best to stave off the coronavirus, we asked insurance experts how you can better protect your family with your homeowners insurance, including where you can find help if you’re having trouble affording that protection right now.
Do I need more homeowners insurance coverage because of COVID-19?
“Homeowners policies do not cover pandemic exposure, but we always encourage consumers to contact their insurance agent or company to do a review to ensure they are properly covered with their changing circumstances whether it’s homeowners, health, life, or auto, etc,” says North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey.
While the risk to the structure of your house hasn’t changed due to the pandemic, now is a good time to reassess both your personal property and liability coverage levels, especially if you’re working from home.
“If your home office requires specialized equipment or set up, you should inquire with your insurance agent about coverage for these expenditures,” recommends Drew Scott, SVP of Personal Lines at Scott Insurance.
Many experts also recommend taking this time to check whether you have enough coverage for your personal belongings, especially for high-value items, like electronics or jewelry, that could require separate add-on coverage. Making a home inventory of your belongings can not only help you ensure you’re covered, but can also help you provide proof to your insurer of what you lost if you ever need to file a claim.
When making your home inventory:
- Take photographs of your belongings
- Log the make and model and serial number, if applicable
- Record a video of your room to capture lots of items at once
- Keep your records in a safe, accessible spot like your smartphone or fireproof safe
Will COVID-19 affect home insurance claims?
“Claims may be a bit slower, but the insurance industry is moving forward. If you have a claim, file it and be patient,” says Walt Capell, President of Workers Compensation Shop.
Social distancing measures are driving insurers to reduce any in-person interaction to a minimum, meaning depending on the company you work with, the claims process may be very different than what you’re used to.
While many companies have already turned to digital tools to process and pay claims, insurers that may typically send a representative to inspect damages are now relying on online apps to investigate and process claims when possible.
Will my homeowners insurance get more expensive because of COVID-19?
Despite the major impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has already had on our world, many experts are not convinced this will create a significant change in the price of homeowners insurance in the near future.
“Claims expenses and loss ratios are the primary factor in home insurance premium changes,” explains Scott. “I don’t see a substantive change in frequency or severity of homeowners insurance claims due to the coronavirus crisis.”
What if I can’t afford my homeowners insurance payment because of COVID-19?
“If consumers can’t afford to pay their homeowners’ premium at this time, then they have options,” Commissioner Causey says. Check to see if your state’s Department of Insurance has taken steps to protect consumers during this time like requiring deferment or grace periods in response to the national emergency, or if it has posted any consumer advice.
We also found that many of the largest insurers are offering support to their customers affected by COVID-19, so reach out to your insurer if you are having trouble affording your payment. Avoid simply skipping a payment at all costs because it can mean your policy will lapse, or no longer be in effect, leaving you without vital coverage.
To get the most expedient help, many insurer’s websites recommend managing your policy through their online app, but if you need to get in touch with your insurer to request a payment plan or grace period, it is still most important that you reach out, even if the wait on phone lines is long.