The holidays are upon us and winter is here. When guests are in the house and the weather outside turns frightful, the chance for holiday accidents couldn’t be higher. But when should those holiday accidents turn into homeowners’ insurance claims? The answer may surprise you.
The Holiday Season Can Lead to Household Accidents
There’s something about this time of the year that can turn holiday cheer into household accidents. Trimming the tree, preparing the turkey, and keeping yourself toasty warm all come with an increased chance at holiday accidents. Every year, 5,800 people are injured putting up holiday decorations. Another 1,062 are injured using space heaters to ward off the cold winter’s nights. Christmas tree and candle fires can put your family out in the cold, or worse.
Even when homeowners are careful, faulty wiring, dangerous winter conditions, and other household risks can turn a family gathering into a horrible holiday. When that happens, many families will try to turn to their homeowners’ insurance to cover medical bills and repair costs. But sometimes, filing a homeowners’ insurance claim might not be worth the risk.
What is Covered by Your Homeowners’ Insurance Policy
Your homeowners’ insurance is designed to cover household accidents and damage to your home and your property. What exactly is covered depends on the specific language of your policy, and any riders or add-ons you have chosen. Most homeowners’ insurance policies provide benefits for:
- Damage to your home or garage caused by natural disasters, including snow and ice storms. (However most policies do not cover floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes.)
- Losses of personal belongings including clothes, furniture, and collectibles up to certain policy limits for each category. (Be sure you consider additional riders to cover high-value items.)
- Personal injury caused to other people in your home, on your property, or by your pets.
- Relocation costs when a covered event forces you to move out of your home temporarily.
When to File a Homeowners’ Insurance Claim
When holiday accidents happen, many Michigan residents want to turn to their homeowners’ insurance and file a claim right away. However, experts in the industry say it may not be worth filing a claim for “small stuff”. The insurance industry is allowed to increase the homeowners’ insurance premiums of anyone who has filed more than one claim within a specified period (sometimes up to a decade). So if you can afford to make the repairs yourself, it may not be worth filing a homeowners’ insurance claim. Generally, the best time to file a claim is when:
- Benefits will be significantly more than the policy deductible
- Other insurance is not available to cover the losses
- You need to defend against a personal injury lawsuit for injury on your property
- You can’t afford to make the repairs yourself
It may seem strange to pay for an insurance policy you don’t use. But if you file too many homeowners’ insurance claims, you could even end up having your policy cancelled. That’s why it makes sense to be selective with your claims.
How to File a Homeowners’ Insurance Claim
You won’t always need to file a homeowners’ insurance claim to cover the damage caused by holiday accidents. But when you do, you often will need to act fast to protect your interests. If a holiday accident or other claim event happens, you should:
- Make sure everyone in your household is safe
- Take pictures of the damage
- Report any crime (including theft or vandalism) to the police and get the police report
- Contact your insurance company and ask how long you have to file a claim
- Make temporary repairs to make your home safe (including putting up tarps or covering holes)
- Make a list of damaged or missing items
- Have an insurance adjuster inspect the home (if needed under your policy)
- Keep all receipts related to repairs and relocation costs
- Contact an attorney to help file your homeowners’ insurance claim
A successful homeowners’ insurance claim often depends on careful documentation of any damage done or items lost. An attorney can help you put together your claim and increase the chances you will receive all the benefits you deserve.
At Macomb Law Group, our personal injury attorneys know when and how to make the most of your homeowners’ insurance benefits after a holiday accident. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured, contact Macomb Law Group and get our team working for you.