Whenever a client comes to us seeking help with the insurance claims process, one of the first things we ask for is a copy of their insurance policy. And when we request the insurance policy, we mean the ENTIRE insurance policy.
That’s not always what we get. It’s actually somewhat amusing, the abbreviated forms people send us in response to the request for the “whole policy.” A lot of times, we get the Dec sheet or the payment form. We have to laugh.
We need the entire policy because it’s essential to opening a claims file. Why? For one thing, we have to see what the coverages are – and the exclusions. Doing so without the full policy would be like assembling a Lego kit with only half of the instructions. We simply can’t do our jobs if we don’t have all relevant information.
Many people don’t have any idea what their full policy contains, or even what it looks like. Insurance companies usually don’t send a full and complete copy of your homeowner’s policy each time it renews, so it’s understandable. But you should have one – trust us on this. Ask your insurance company for a certified copy of your policy, and keep it in a safe place – we recommend a digital scan. If you’re a business owner, your commercial policy will likely be bigger than your homeowner’s policy.
Your policy contains some key sections you should be familiar with, the most prominent being the Declarations. The “Dec Sheet” typically contains basic information, such as the policy period, limits of liability, endorsements, mortgagees and location(s) of the property that is being insured. Each year with your renewal, the insurer will send you updated Declarations, along with any other changes to the existing policy, including all new endorsements.
Read these updates every year when you receive them, and keep a copy of your policy. Any time you have a property loss, read the full policy! Things are always changing and you want to be aware of what coverage you have.