Many insured Missouri home owners are caught off-guard, at the time they file a claim and can afford it the least, when they discover that their “deductible” has increased to several thousands of dollars. (The policy’s “deductible” is a dollar amount that is automatically subtracted by the insurance company from any amount that is owed, per occurrence, to the insured as a result of damage or loss to the home.)
When many home owners first insured their homes, their policies originally had a $500.00 deductible that eventually changed to $1,000. Now, with recent renewals, insurance companies have begun to assign a deductible amount that represents a percentage of the total value of the policy. By this, if a home is insured for $300,000, a 1% deductible allows for each claim to carry a deductible amount of $3,000. This means that a claim against the policy for a $7,000 to repair will result in a payment of $4,000.
A recent Missouri client was surprised and upset to learn that his deductible had increased from its original $1000 to over $5,000 when he filed what was his very first claim after decades of coverage. While we were able to successfully negotiate an agreement with his insurer to waive this deductible amount for his claim, this was an exception to the rule that is not always available – as was the case of another client who discovered too late that she had a significant $2,300 amount to be deducted from her settlement of $6,400.
These increases in the deductible amounts are reported to the home owner at policy renewal on the “Declarations” page that is sent at the time of each renewal. Unfortunately, many home owners will simply file this important page with their policies without reading and noting the change.
Take the time, today, to read your most recent declarations page to see if your deductible has changed. It is possible to negotiate a lower deductible with your insurance company, in some cases, with a slight increase in your premium … but this must be done and in effect PRIOR to the date of any loss or damage.
Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart