The Coronavirus pandemic affected the home insurance industry in many ways, and insurance agencies throughout the United States had to adjust the way they do things. One of these changes is the use of technologies like video conferencing and remote working. While companies have been using these trends way before the pandemic, they have become the go-to solutions for many businesses nowadays, including insurance companies.
Insurers are not the only ones adapting to these changes, though, as homeowners also have a lot of adjustments and learning to do. The new normal way of doing things can be challenging for policyholders, too.
If you are a homeowner with a current policy or plan to purchase one soon, it’s best to first talk to your insurance agent. To give you an idea of what to expect, here are important homeowners’ insurance policy FAQs that focus on adjustments made in the light of COVID-19.
Homeowners Insurance FAQs in the Time of COVID-19
Can COVID-19 affect my homeowners’ insurance coverage? Do I need more coverage because of the virus?
COVID-19 will not directly affect your homeowners’ insurance coverage as the virus does not infect homes, structures, and personal belongings. Additionally, your policy has no pandemic exposure coverage and provisions. It is a good idea, though, to talk to your insurer and conduct a review of your plan to ensure that you have the right coverage. Provide your agent with an updated inventory of your property and personal belongings, as these will be useful if you’ll need to file a claim.
You may also want to inquire about additional liability coverage if you work from home and your children are homeschooling or online learning. Some insurance agencies offer cover for homeowners who are working at home. It is important to note, though, that business visitors are not allowed inside your property.
Also, ask your insurer about additional coverage as you might need it if you rented out rooms but had to stop because of the pandemic. Most insurers recommend stopping short-term rentals for the duration of the global health crisis.
I am a new homebuyer and I plan to get my home insured. What changes should I expect?
One of the main requirements for purchasing homeowners insurance, whether yours is a new home or not, is an inspection of the entire property. Since person-to-person interaction is still prohibited, insurers use technology to carry out the activity. You can set up a video conference with a representative from the agency or send photos and videos of your property and belongings.
Likewise, some insurers allow in-person inspections, but they strictly follow social distancing protocols. Instead of walking around the house with the company representative, you’re allowed to isolate in one area and monitor the activity from there. It’s really up to your insurer; you’ll have to come up with a compromise that’s beneficial for both parties.
If I were to file a claim, what would I do?
The first thing you need to do if you have a claim or are about to file one is to inform your insurance agent. With the new normal way of doing things, getting things started right away is essential as new processes are considered.
First of all, the claims procedure is slower these days because of social distancing and health and safety protocols. The adjusted process takes some getting used to.
Second, since face-to-face interaction is prohibited, insurance agencies now use technology to carry out their day-to-day activities. For example, many insurers use online tools and apps for procedures such as home inspections and the processing of claims. Virtual claims have become your best option for filing your claim.
In-person home inspections are too risky, so most insurers prefer to do an online inspection using video conferencing tools such as Zoom. While this may sound intimidating to homeowners, the online process can speed up the process a bit because interaction and feedback are immediate. Virtual claims procedures do not need mediators or intermediaries.
What are the options for homeowners who were displaced by the pandemic and cannot afford the rates?
Home insurance providers understand how rough the pandemic has been to homeowners, especially those who were laid off from work or whose businesses collapsed. State governments came up with some adjustments that allow homeowners to pay off their policy. Insurers created a payment plan that provides homeowners with a considerable grace period for their payments.
What other changes or adjustments are home insurance companies doing?
Aside from the changes mentioned above, homeowners insurance companies are also practicing the following:
– Giving homeowners more time to work on home improvements and repairs vital for keeping their policies active.
– If the virtual alternative is not doable, insurers temporarily halt home inspections for interior and exterior structures.
– Service to policyholders continues despite the limitations of the pandemic.
– Call centers are operational and servicing homeowners with inquiries about their claims and losses.
– Reinstatement fees are waived, and payment plans are available for homeowners whose policies have lapsed as a side effect of the pandemic.
For a more detailed guide on home insurance in the time of COVID-19, talk with your agent or find one who can give you the information you need.
Guest Post written by: Rachael Harper