Has Your Deductible Changed Without Your Knowledge?

For the past several years homeowner’s insurance companies in Indiana have been losing money, primarily because of wind and hail claims. Storm patterns in recent years have pelted the Midwest with wind and hail related claims that reach into the $ billions. In fact many insurance companies are paying out 2 dollars in claims, for every dollar they receive in premium.Hail-damage-house-OK-6-2011-lg

This has been the primary reason the industry has seen such an increase in homeowners insurance premiums over the past few years. While this trend is not likely to end any time soon, some insurance companies are also changing the way they pay out claims.

Traditionally a homeowner’s policy has a dollar amount named as the deductible. That amount is subtracted from the amount of the claim. For example, if the policy has a $1,000 deductible and there is a $5,000 claim, the insurance company would pay out $4,000.

However there is a trend in the industry that has some companies changing their deductibles from a dollar amount to a percentage, especially if the claim has been caused by wind or hail.

Hand over your moneyI recently spoke to a married couple who had damage to their roof caused by the outbreak of tornadoes we experienced in the month of November. They called their insurance company to file a claim, and discovered that their deductible for a wind claim is 10% of their dwelling value. Their dwelling value is $360,000 which made their deductible $36,000. Needless to say they ended up having to pay for the repairs to their roof out of their own pocket.

Did you catch that? Their deductible was $36,000 for wind and hail damages!

Unfortunately many other companies are following suit. Some very large and well-known insurance companies are changing their wind and hail deductibles to a % and most of their clients are unaware of the change. Often times clients are only notified of this change within the mountain of paperwork they receive in the mail from the company at the policies renewal.

Let’s face it; most people do not have the time to sift through that much paperwork. They file it away and assume that the coverages have remained the same.

The example given above of a 10% deductible is the most extreme case that I have seen. More frequently I am seeing wind and hail damage deductibles changing from a dollar amount to 1% or 2% of the dwelling coverage. 1% or 2% of the dwelling is still a significant amount of money to pay out of pocket at the stressful time of a claim.take action

Protect yourself.

1. Review your documents. Take the time to review the documents when you receive information in the mail from your insurance company. If you do not understand the language or have questions, take the policy to your agent and have them explain the coverages.

annual review2. Insist on an annual review. Your agent should be sitting down with you on an annual basis to review your coverages and to answer your questions. There are too many changes taking place in the homeowner’s insurance arena right now to ignore the paperwork and hope for the best.

3. Educate yourself. Too often times I hear people say that they paid their premium so the assumed everything was OK. Don’t turn a blind eye to your insurance coverages. Insurance is expensive so you should do you best to make sure that you understand what you are paying for.

Replacement Value or Actual Cash Value

Do you have Replacement Value or Actual Cash Value? This is an important question that needs to asked when determining which insurance program is right for you.

ConfusionReplacement Value Insurance means that if your covered item is destroyed you will be paid the amount of money it takes to replace that item with a brand new item. There are a few caveats in each policy and you must subtract your deductible, but this is a good definition of Replacement Value.

Actual Cash Value Insurance (ACV) means that if your covered item is destroyed you will be paid the value of that item at the time of the occurrence. If your item is 10 years old the item will be depreciated accordingly and you will be paid the cash value of that item minus your deductible.

Here are two examples.

Your roof blows off of your house in a bad storm. You get an estimate of $15,000 to replace your roof.Limestone Tornado Damage

If you have Replacement Value Insurance with a $1,000 deductible the insurance company would pay the roofing contractor $14,000 and you would pay $1,000, the amount of your deductible.

If you have ACV with a $1,000 deductible the insurance company would then do some calculations to determine the value of your roof at the time of the occurrence. If your roof is 8 years old, they would depreciate the value of your roof by 8 years. They may determine that the cash value of your roof to be $11,000. The insurance company would then pay the roofing contractor $10,000 ($11,000 minus your deductible of $1,000), and you would pay the roofing contractor the remaining $5,000.

Here’s another example

Missing RoofIn that same scenario of the roof blowing off of your home, you have nearly all of your personal property damaged by rain water, hail damage, and wind.

If you have Replacement Value Insurance on your personal property the insurance company would calculate how much it would cost to replace the damaged personal property with new personal property of the same kind. If they determine that it is $100,000, you would be paid out that amount to replace your personal property. In this case the deductible was already paid through the roofing contractor.

If you have ACV on your personal propertyConcerned Woman the insurance company would then do some calculations to determine the cash value of your personal property at the time of the occurrence. You may only get $200 for your 10 year old couch, even though a new couch may cost $1,200. They may determine that your personal property had a cash value of $25,000 at the time of the occurrence. You would be paid out that amount to replace your personal property. Your deductible was already paid through the roofing contractor.

Summarizing these 2 example; if you had Replacement Value Insurance your insurance company would have paid out $114,000 (replacement of the roof and your personal property) and you would have had to pay out $1,000 (the amount of your deductible); and if you had ACV your insurance company would have paid out $35,000 (the ACV of the roof and your personal property minus your deductible) and you would have had to pay out $80,000 to replace your roof and personal property.

new roofReplacement Value Insurance cost about 10% more than ACV and there are some situation where ACV is called for. Some risks may not be eligible for Replacement Value Insurance because of the condition of the property, or the nature of the risk.

There are changes taking place in the insurance industry right now that you need to be aware of.  Some companies are changing the way that they pay out claims from what they may have done in the past. I am seeing deductibles increasing and policies that once had Replacement Value Insurance getting changed to ACV. Many HO3 polices have Replacement Value on the home but ACV on the personal property. Do you know what you have? logo3696786_mdIf you are unsure, contact your agent right away.

You can also contact Bragg Insurance Agency at 317-758-5828 for a free no obligation review of any of your insurance policies.