Having the right homeowner’s policy is critical to ensuring that one is protected if the need to make a claim arises.
Ohio Insurance Department Director Ann Womer Benjamin, in conjunction with Get Smart About Insurance Week, a consumer outreach campaign January 19-23, is encouraging Ohioans to talk with their agent and perform an insurance review to better understand their coverage needs and options. Recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reportedly shows that only 33 percent of Americans feel they understand their insurance policies “very well.”
“Taking the time each year to talk with your agent about coverage needs and performing a yearly review are steps consumers can easily take to ensure they have the right coverage,” said Womer Benjamin. “Some may find that their coverage exceeds their current needs or that a higher deductible could save hundreds of dollars a year.” Anyone with questions can contact the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526.
“Once a consumer purchases a policy, it is typical for them to assume their property and their families are protected,” said Womer Benjamin. “However, circumstances change over the course of time, making many policies outdated and in need of review.”
Since 2001, the Department has seen the number of complaints regarding non-renewals and cancellations increase by 67 percent and complaints regarding homeowner’s insurance increase by 57 percent over the same period. Concern over these numbers has prompted Womer Benjamin to consider legislation that would protect consumers from instances of non-renewal and cancellation.
The Department is offering these tips to help consumers better manage their insurance policies:
· Do not use your homeowner’s policy as a home maintenance contract;
· Protect your home against typical perils;
· Avoid filing claims for small losses;
· Avoid filing frequent claims;
· Avoid water damage claims and mold claims; and
· Before purchasing a home, ask to review its CLUE report.
If you receive a non-renewal or cancellation notice, take immediate steps before the policy lapses. It is easier to find another carrier while you are still insured in the voluntary market. Obtain quotes from at least three other insurers so you can compare premiums and coverage options.
“Homeowner’s insurance is there to protect your property from a catastrophic event where the result is major damage or total loss of the dwelling,” said Womer Benjamin. “Unfortunately, consumers may be misinterpreting their policies and making frequent claims for damage equal to or near their deductible, which could lead to cancellation or non-renewal of a policy.”
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