The answer to this question depends on your insurer and your purchased policy. Usually, all policies have what is called an effective date. This date signifies when your policy comes into effect. Once this date has arrived, you may claim on your insurance policy; any claim made will be rejected/refused before this date.
Policy Effective Date
An insurance policy effective date is when your coverage becomes active; in other words, it is when you can start enjoying your insurance benefits. Your effective date also marks the date you have to start remitting your insurance premiums to your insurer.
Depending on your insurer, your effective date might go by another name, such as a policy start date or a commencement date.
The best place to locate your policy start date is your insurance declaration page. We’d advise you to take note of your policy expiration date as well; this would come in handy when you want to renew your policy.
A major advantage to knowing your policy start date is that it points you in the right direction to processing your claims. Before this date, your coverage is yet to kick in. Hence your insurer won’t cover any of your costs at this point. With this knowledge, you’d be more cautious until your policy kicks in to avoid unnecessary costs.
Insurance Claims – What Are They And When To File For Them
An insurance claim is a formal request to your insurer to pay you for one of your covered perils such as car accidents, theft, fire, etc.
We’ve all been there, minding our business on the road waiting for the traffic light to signal us to go when a speeding driver crashes into your car. Perhaps your landlord never got to changing that power outlet, and you return home from work one day to a burnt apartment.
Whatever the case, perils are a part of life; that’s why insurance exists. So now the burning question you’ve had on your mind – when should I file a claim on my insurance policy?
The Answer – it depends. Several factors go into filing a claim on your policy, such as the amount on your deductible and whether your policy is active or not.
The general rule of thumb for filing a claim is to skip it if the cost of damages is less than your deductible or a few hundred dollars above it.
For instance, you have car insurance and are involved in a car accident. Your car repairs will cost around two thousand dollars ($2000); however, the deductible on your policy is one thousand five hundred dollars ($1500).
Would it make sense to go through the hectic process of filing a claim just for five hundred dollars ($500)? We didn’t think so either.
We should also mention that filing a claim sometimes raises the chances of having your insurer increase your premium. Even when you aren’t the one at fault.
Despite these factors, there are cases where you shouldn’t pass the opportunity to file a claim:
Someone Is Injured
A car accident resulting in the other driver or passenger sustaining an injury is always a good reason to file a claim. However, depending on the level of the injury, the medical costs may not be so expensive.
However, there is also the possibility that they may sue for damages, which will run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As we’ve said before, except your great-nana has a few million she doesn’t mind handing out for such situations, it’s best to let your insurer handle these costs.
It’s Difficult To Allocate Blame
It isn’t always easy to allocate blame in the case of an accident sometimes; it looks like both parties could be blamed. Other times it seemed like it was beyond the control of everyone, and it could not be avoided. For instance, an accident caused by a natural disaster.
In such cases, it is in your best interest to file a claim on your policy and have your insurer handle the damage costs.
Impracticable To Not File A Claim
There are times when it is impracticable to not file a claim; an example of such a situation is if your car is totaled. You aren’t looking at a few hundred dollars in such situations but damages worth thousands of damages.
Except you have more money than you will ever care to worry about, it makes sense to file a claim when you are at a total loss.
However, every case is different, so there’s no harm in speaking with a customer representative to help you weigh the pros and cons of filing a claim on your case.
How To File An Insurance Claim
Life happens to the best of us; you’re away on vacation, and your neighbor calls to tell you that a flood has wrecked your locality. Or perhaps your kid’s bicycle that’s always locked to the front porch has been suspiciously missing for the past week.
Whatever the case, life will give you a reason to file a claim even when you don’t want to. So how do you file a claim?
Call The Right People
If there’s a fire outbreak, get in touch with your local fire department, a robbery – call the police, a medical emergency – call 911. The point is don’t just stand there; get help. You may not necessarily need their reports to file an insurance claim, but there’s no harm in getting one.
Document Every Detail
In the case of an accident, you’ll want to note where the accident happened, what caused it, the people involved, their policy numbers if they have insurance.
In the case of damage to your property, it’s better to take pictures and make videos of the physical damage your home suffered. Create an inventory for everything that needs replacement or repairs. If you’ll be staying at a hotel, keep all receipts safe for reimbursement purposes. Hold on to everything.
Contact Your Insurer
Get in contact with your insurer as soon as you can. While most companies don’t have a strict rule for how soon you can file a claim after an incident, it is best to do so as early as possible.
Some companies allow their clients to file a claim the same day they purchase a policy; this is common with phone insurance policies. Others may require a waiting period where you will have to wait until your policy start date before filing a claim.
It is best to discuss your insurance needs with your insurer as they are in the best position to advise you on what to do.