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How to File an Insurance Claim After a Fire

Many households share one common fear: house fires. Aside from the danger associated with them, house fires put your personal belongings at serious risk. People without homeowners insurance can pay thousands of dollars just to replace the items lost in a fire, not to mention the damages done to the structure of the home itself.

Fortunately, if you’ve obtained a homeowners insurance policy before the incident occurs, you’ll be in much better shape. Paying for repairs after a fire or other disaster strikes out of pocket can cost an arm and a leg. If you have an adequate amount of home insurance coverage and are keeping up with your premium payments, any damage that was caused by a fire in your home should be covered.

Following these steps will make the claims process as painless as possible. Though you’ll want your home repaired and items replaced as soon as possible, patience is required if you want to maintain a positive relationship with your insurance company.

 

Before You File a Claim:

Go Shopping

When you were evacuating your home during a fire, you probably didn’t have time to grab much, if anything at all. You can ask for an advance payment from your homeowners insurance company to cover some essentials, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and other hygiene products, and even clothes that you’d wear to work. Fortunately, your home insurer wants to be convenient, so you won’t need to file a claim before you buy these items. Instead, ask your insurer for an advance in the form of a check or wire transfer. Make sure you save your receipts and don’t spend above your (and your insurer’s) means, as you’ll need to pay the difference. In other words, when you’re buying a replacement suit to wear to work, head to Macy’s, not to Gucci.

 

Mitigate the Damages

As a homeowner with an insurance policy, it’s your duty to make sure that no extra harm comes upon the home. Do what you can to keep this bad situation from getting any worse. After the fire is extinguished, assess the damages and take steps to protect your home and belongings from an incident resulting from this destruction. If there’s a hole in the exterior wall, for example, board it up to keep vandals or thieves out. If your roof experiences damage from a fire, lay a tarp over the exposed section to prevent rain from creating water damage. Stay on top of things to make sure no new issues arise as a result of the fire damage.

 

Filing the Claim:

Call Your Insurer

Make your claim as soon as possible. Calling your insurer directly is the most proactive, effective way to do this. The insurance agent will ask you about details regarding the accident and its aftermath so the insurance company can get an accurate report. After you speak with an agent, you’ll be asked to submit a proof of loss claim, which details the items lost from the fire, along with their values. This might sound obvious, but the sooner you file the claim, the higher priority your claim will be and the faster the damages will be fixed. Once the claim is initially made, your insurer will bring on a claims representative, who will take a look at your policy, what it entails, your deductibles and any other useful information. Your claims representative will send you a detailed letter documenting this information. This process should take less than 30 days.

 

Be Assertive

After filing the claim, if you feel that your insurance company is taking their time in responding to your initial claim, don’t be afraid to call or write to them. If there’s no question about whether or not you’ll receive coverage from the damages to your home, your repairs should be started in a relatively timely manner. If you’re still feeling tossed aside, you might need to send a letter to your state’s Department of Insurance. This letter can even be a copy of the same email or letter you sent to your insurer. If your insurer is taking too long, the Department of Insurance will reach out to them. This should light a fire under your insurance company, figuratively speaking.

 

Come to a Settlement

If you disagree with your insurer’s analysis of your policy, you are entitled to respond to their initial statement. Just because your home insurer is the one covering the damages doesn’t mean you have no say. Try to come to an agreement on this claim. Once the settlement is reached, the claims representative will either make the payments immediately or decide to investigate further to make sure no fraud is occurring. If the representative wants to go with the latter step, your insurer will send an investigator to look at the damages on your home. If no fraud is detected, the cost estimates to repair or replace features of your home will be put in place by your insurance company.

 

Track Your Living Expenses

If you were forced to relocate from your home to either a friend’s house or a hotel, you might be making various out-of-pocket expenses that you otherwise wouldn’t have made. If your hotel room doesn’t have a kitchen, you might be getting takeout meals more frequently. If you normally pay $300 per week for groceries but spend $450 one week for primarily takeout meals, you should be reimbursed $150 that week from your insurance company. This comes from the loss of use clause, which entitles you to additional living expenses that you are making while living away from home during the claims and repair process. Under this clause, your insurer will most likely pay your motel or hotel bill. However, as with shopping for essentials on your insurer’s dollar, be reasonable with your spending and lodging choices.

 

Get a Repair Estimate

This is where the type of homeowners insurance you have comes into play. If you have an “actual cash value” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money these damages items are worth at the time of the fire. If you lose an outdated piece of technology, like an old TV or computer, you’ll receive the amount of cash the item is worth in the present, not what you bought it for. “Actual cash value” policies take objects’ depreciation into account. On the other hand, if you have a “replacement cost” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money it would take to replace the object. If you lose a laptop that you bought in 2011 with this sort of policy, you will receive the cost it takes to buy a brand new laptop, not the amount the exact laptop is worth in present day.

 

It’s Not Over Yet

When you filed the initial claim, you might have overlooked other damages. For that reason, leave the claim open with your insurer for a few months after the repairs have been completed. That way, if you come across an issue that emerged from the fire damage, you won’t need to pay a second deductible. Your insurance company will want to close the claim as soon as possible for this reason, but don’t hesitate to keep it open just in case.

 

This sounds like a long process. Unfortunately, it may take a few months to file a claim and receive repairs on your home following a fire; this seems like a long time, especially if you’ve been relocated from your home. However, your insurance company wants to make it as seamless and efficient as possible. If you work with your insurance company cooperatively yet assertively, you will make this process much easier on yourself and them.

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Separating Fact From Fiction When It Comes to Long-Term Care Insurance

Few people are prepared to handle the financial burden of long-term health care. In fact, many people have a false sense of security when it comes to long-term care. Let’s separate fact from fiction:

“Medicare and my Medicare supplement policy will cover it.”

FACTS:

  • Medicare and “Medigap” insurance were never intended to pay for ongoing, long-term care. Only about 12% of nursing home costs are paid by Medicare, for short-term skilled nursing home care following hospitalization. (Source: Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance, AHIP, 2013)
  • Medicare and most health insurance plans, including Medicare supplement policies, do not pay for long-term custodial care. (Source: 2017 Medicare & You, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

“It won’t happen to me.”

FACTS:

  • Almost 70% of people turning age 65 will need long term care services and supports at some point in their lives. (Source: LongTermCare.gov, November 2016)
  • About 67% of nursing home residents and 70% of assisted living residents are women. (Source: Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States, February 2016, National Center for Health Statistics)

“I can afford it.”

FACTS:

  • As a national average, a year in a nursing home is currently estimated to cost about $92,000. In some areas, it can easily cost well over $110,000! (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)
  • The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nursing Home Care FastStats, last updated May 2014)
  • The national average cost of a one bedroom in an assisted living facility in the U.S. was $43,539 per year in 2016. (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)
  • Home health care is less expensive, but it still adds up. In 2016, the national average hourly rate for licensed home health aides was $20. Bringing an aide into your home for 20 hours a week can easily cost over $1,600 each month, or almost $20,000 a year. (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)

“If I can’t afford it, I’ll go on Medicaid.”

FACTS:

  • Medicaid, or welfare assistance, has many “strings” attached and is only available to people who meet federal poverty guidelines.

Whether purchased for yourself, your spouse or for an aging parent, long-term care insurance can help protect assets accumulated over a lifetime from the ravages of long-term care costs.

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Things To Be Sure To Know About An Auto Warranty

Any vehicle owner can feel at ease when bringing their car to the shop if they are covered by an auto warranty. Auto warranties cover repair and maintenance costs for your vehicles. Here are three things to be sure you know about an auto warranty:

1. Know where the auto warranty is coming from. Is it coming from a manufacturer or an aftermarket company? It is important to be aware of who is handling your policy.

2. Thoroughly read through the warranty so that you are aware of how long it will last and what coverage you are getting from it.

3. Be aware of and be sure to perform any and all required maintenance on your vehicle because warranties only remain valid if you get specific work done to your vehicle. Also, keep a record of all maintenance and repairs performed on your vehicle in the event that you ever need to handle a claim.

Auto warranties provide peace of mind when bringing your vehicle to your mechanic for repairs and maintenance. If you want to get the most out of your auto warranty, it is important to know all of its details.

 

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Blood Cancers and Buying Life Insurance

According to the American Society of Hematology, blood cancers affect the production and function of your blood cells and end up preventing your blood from performing many of its functions, such as fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding.  Approximately every three minutes, one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer.  September is both Life Insurance Awareness Month and Blood Cancer Awareness Month.  In this post, let’s discuss the different types of blood cancer and how these conditions can affect buying life insurance.

What are the different types of blood cancer?

There are three main types of blood cancer: leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.  An estimated 1,290,773 Americans are either living with, or are in remission from, leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.

Leukemia – cancer of the body’s blood forming tissues.

  • Mainly affects bone marrow and the lymphatic system
  • Usually, affects white blood cells – the infection fighting cells
  • There are many types of leukemia

Lymphoma – cancer of the lymphatic system.

  • Affects the lymphatic system – the body’s germ-fighting network – which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow
  • There two categories: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Myeloma – cancer of plasma cells.

  • Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce disease- and infection-fighting antibodies
  • Cancerous plasma cells release too much protein and can cause organ damage
  • Cancerous plasma cells can also crowd the normal cells in your bones and weaken them

How does leukemia affect buying life insurance?

Leukemia can be either acute or chronic.  Chronic leukemia progresses more slowly than acute leukemia, which requires immediate treatment.  There are five types of leukemia: acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL), hairy cell leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).  ALL is the most common form of childhood leukemia and AML and CLL are most common in adults.

Although individuals who have been diagnosed with leukemia generally cannot get preferred life insurance risk classes, that is Preferred Plus or Preferred, once treated with no recurrence, individuals can be considered for Standard life insurance rates.  Risk classes are dependent on the type of leukemia, your age at diagnosis, and how long it has been since completion of treatment.  The more years that have passed since treatment, the better your chances are for qualifying for Standard or Standard Plus.

Risk Classes
Preferred Plus
Preferred
Standard Plus
Standard

If you do not qualify for standard risk classes, you may be table rated and/or be required to pay a flat extra.  A table rating typically means you will pay the standard prices plus a certain percentage.  A flat extra is an additional fee that cushions the risk for the insurance carrier.  A flat extra can last the entire life of a policy or just a few years.

Table Rating
(alphabetical)
Table Rating
(numerical)
Pricing
A 1 Standard + 25%
B 2 Standard + 50%
C 3 Standard + 75%
D 4 Standard + 100%
E 5 Standard + 125%
F 6 Standard + 150%
G 7 Standard + 175%
H 8 Standard + 200%
I 9 Standard + 225%
J 10 Standard + 250%

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Example 1

 

Jane Doe was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when she was 8 years old.  She is now 30 years old and it has been over 20 years since treatment was completed.  Jane is a non-smoker and aside from her history of childhood cancer, she has a clean bill of health.

She applies for a 30-year $500,000 life insurance policy and is approved at Standard Plus.  Her monthly premium payments will be $50.

Example 2

 

John Smith was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) when he was 18 years old.  Part of his treatment was a bone marrow transplant.  He is now 32 years old, does not smoke, and it has been 13 years since treatment was completed.

He applies for a 20-year $500,000 life insurance policy and is approved at Table B.  His monthly premium payments will be $60.

Keep in mind that no life insurance company underwrites the exact same way.  (Underwriting is the process of evaluating an application and determining a risk class.)  Some will be stricter with leukemia than others.

How does lymphoma affect buying life insurance?

There are two categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin.  The difference between the two is based on the type of cancer cells present.  According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Hodgkin lymphoma is rare, accounting for about .5 percent of all new cancers diagnosed.  Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common being the seventh most diagnosed cancer.

In the majority of cases, applicants with a history of lymphoma will be assigned a flat extra for the first few years, unless a good number of years (like ten) have passed since treatment.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Example

 

John Doe is a 54-year-old male, non-smoker, applying for a 20-year $250,000 term policy.  He was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma five years ago.  He went through chemotherapy that same year and continued preventative treatment for two years following.  There has been no sign of recurrence.  He gets check-ups once per year.

John is approved at Table B with a flat extra of $15 per thousand for five years.  Here’s what all that means.  John is getting $250,000 in coverage, so to calculate the flat extra you multiply 15 by 250.  John will have to pay an extra $3750 per year on top of his normal premiums for five years.  Once year five is over, his premiums will drop to the regular Table B premium which will be $140 per month.

Again, no life insurance company underwrites the same way.  There are insurance carriers that would decline John outright.  This is why working with an independent agency like Quotacy is beneficial.  We have contracts with multiple A-rated carriers, so your chances of being approved are better.

How does myeloma affect buying life insurance?

Myeloma has different forms, but 90 percent of people who have been diagnosed with myeloma have multiple myeloma.  It’s called such because it affects several areas of the body versus just one site.  There is currently no cure for multiple myeloma, so life insurance approval may prove difficult.  Unless you have had a bone marrow transplant, an applicant diagnosed with multiple myeloma will typically be declined for life insurance.  Myeloma is, however, the least commonly diagnosed type of blood cancer.

Plasmacytoma and localized myeloma diagnoses, these are forms of myeloma in which cancer cells are found in only one site, have higher chances of life insurance approval.  Standard rates are even possible if enough years have passed since treatment.

If you have a history of blood cancer, don’t hesitate to apply for life insurance.  Applying for life insurance is free and there is no commitment to buy.  Here at Quotacy we have access to many life insurance carriers and will help to get you approved for coverage.  Start out by using our term quoting tool to run as many quotes as you would like – no contact information required.  We look forward to helping you get life insurance.

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Keeping Your Teen Safe at Home

When I was a teenager, I would come home from school hours before my parents got back from work. Sometimes I wonder if they ever worried about me being at home alone—whether I was getting up to any teenage mischief or not. Unless they called, there was no way for them to know.

Nowadays there’s texting, which certainly helps this problem. But your security system can also be a huge help in knowing your kids are home safe and behaving well.

SimpliSafe Components That Go the Extra Mile:

SimpliSafe has lots of customizable features that allow you to create a solution that fits your family’s needs.

The SimpliSafe security camera records videos any time your system is tripped, but did you know it also records a short clip anytime the system is armed or disarmed? It’s great for checking in on who’s home. You can see which friends your teen has over. Is it their study partner or that bad apple from down the block? You can check in any time. And don’t worry. The privacy shutter on the camera gives you and your family privacy when they’re home.

You can also set up your system so that each member of the family has a unique PIN. That way you’ll know who’s arming and disarming the system. Not only will you know your teen got home safe, but you’ll know they remembered to arm the system again after.

Another great feature to take advantage of is the SimpliSafe app. With interactive monitoring, you can arm your system remotely when your teen forgets. You can also check to see when they armed or disarmed the system (a surefire way to know if someone’s been breaking their curfew).

If your kid is old enough to stay home alone overnight, SimpliSafe will give you the peace of mind they’re protected, even when they’re asleep. They’ll have the backup not just from our monitoring center, but from the local police as well. Plus, you’ll also have the peace of mind that if they throw a wild party you’ll catch them red-handed.

Entry Sensors & Secret Alerts:

We’ve heard of customers using SimpliSafe sensors in creative ways to keep an eye on their teens. Some like to install Entry Sensors in unusual places like liquor cabinets to know when someone is getting into somewhere they shouldn’t be.

Of course, you probably don’t want the police called if your kid happens to open the liquor cabinet. That’s why SimpliSafe has Secret Alerts. You’ll get a text if that sensor is tripped, but the alarm won’t sound and the message won’t be sent to SimpliSafe’s monitoring. It’ll be between you and your teen.

You can also use Secret Alerts to get a text if they’re sneaking out at night, or if they’re taking a peek at those Christmas presents hidden in the closet (we never get too old for that, do we).

Give Them Responsibility:

Part of keeping your kids safe is teaching them how to keep themselves safe. So give your teen some responsibility in protecting your home. If your teen is the most likely person to be at or near your home, consider making them a primary or secondary emergency contact. Teach them what to do and practice the emergency plan together.

If there are younger siblings, have your teen teach the little ones how to use the system and what to do in an emergency.

You can also give your teen access to the app. This way they can also arm and disarm from a distance, and check in on what’s going on at home. You can even work the app as part of their chores, like keeping an eye on the pets.

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