The Coronavirus pandemic drastically transformed the way we do things, starting with the lockdown. Businesses and organizations were significantly affected, and insurance agencies are no exception. For homeowners, these changes mean adjusting to the new normal, particularly on some aspects of their policies.
If you are a new homeowner, just purchased home property insurance, or are at a loss about what to do, you need to know what changes you’ll have to deal with. Talking to your insurance agent will help, but arming yourself with basic information is also vital.
Here are some home insurance policy changes and adjustments to keep in mind.
The pandemic does not directly affect your home insurance policy.
If you’re worried that the Coronavirus pandemic will directly impact your policy, don’t be. Your home and personal items cannot contract the virus, so they are considered low-risk elements. The virus will not destroy your home, damage your furniture and appliances, or require you to rebuild structures. Therefore, your policy is unaffected and remains the same.
If changes or adjustments are needed, it won’t be because of the pandemic but certain policy aspects such as moving your office to your home or purchasing new materials and equipment for your children’s homeschool.
Staying home does not guarantee lesser insurance rates.
While it’s true that staying home lessens the risk of theft, it is not a guarantee for lower insurance rates. Spending more time at home can also mean an increase in the possibility of causing accidents, fire, and even injuries to another person. Your insurance agent knows how to explain this to you in detail.
Observing social distancing and health and safety protocols
For homeowners who are still acquiring their insurance policy, a home inspection is an essential requirement. Typically, representatives from the insurance company will visit the homeowner’s house to check and assess the property. Since social distancing and health and safety protocols were put in place as soon as the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, insurers had to adapt to the new normal.
Nowadays, a home inspection is usually held through virtual channels. If video conferencing is not possible, most insurers allow homeowners to take photos of the property (and belongings), and these are then sent to the agency.
Some insurance agencies still do in-person home inspections, but with strict social distancing measures. One option is for the insurance company representative to coordinate with the homeowner, so nobody is at home during the inspection. Another option is for the homeowner to stay in one area or room of the house (one that’s not vital in the inspection) while the representative goes around to check and assess the property.
Each insurance company has its own new normal home inspection process, so talk to your agent to find out what your insurer offers.
The new normal way of filing claims
If you’ve had your insurance for a while and are about to file claims, expect some significant changes in the filing process. Since social distancing protocols prohibit face-to-face interactions, the procedure is now done virtually. Submitting claims, for example, entails the use of your smartphone in sending the requirements.
In some cases, a program or app is available for homeowners to use in sending videos or photos of the property damage, accident, or injury.
However, these virtual options are intended only for simple claims; the bigger and serious or severe ones still require face-to-face interactions. Insurance agencies have their procedures for these in-person interactions, so don’t be afraid to ask your agent about this.
Home insurance payments have extended grace periods.
Insurance agencies understand the financial burden many homeowners are facing as a result of the lockdown. Several businesses ceased their operations, and numerous people are now jobless. For this reason, some states came out with a mandate requiring insurance agencies to offer an extension of their usual grace periods. In California, for example, there is a 60-day payment deferral, and insurers cannot cancel plans because of non-payment for the duration of this period.
Additionally, insurers also offer other forms of financial assistance and continuity plans.
Pandemic stress can cause an increase in insurance rates.
With the economy in limbo and the global health situation still unsure, an increase in mental health cases is not surprising. Depression and anxiety caused by pandemic stress is the number one cause of this bleak scenario.
Such situations are also expected to lead to insurance fraud, as people will try to find ways to survive financially. These fraudulent claims can trigger an increase in insurance rates.
Additionally, the civil unrest in the earlier part of the pandemic has also caused some damages and injuries, so you should consider this when examining your home insurance policy. You’ll never know what’s going to happen in the next few months, so you have to be prepared.
What to do when buying home insurance in the time of Coronavirus
If you’re still in the process of buying home insurance, don’t rush things. Take time to shop around for a good policy and ask for recommendations from other homeowners. Also, ensure that your home is safe so you can avail of discounts and special rates.
Talk to your insurance agent to get more details about how the Coronavirus pandemic affects your home insurance policy.