Taking the Hassle Out of Insurance Claims
Insurance companies who insure churches are generally
very cooperative and willing to assist with any claim. It is always wise to choose your insurance company carefully, preferably one which specializes in churches, such as Church Mutual, Guide One,
Brotherhood Mutual, etc. These policies are more comprehensive and usually make claim time experiences less stressful.
When there is a covered cause of loss, someone from the
church will need to provide the following information to get your claim started:
· Always call your insurance representative as soon as
soon as possible after the loss has occurred, even if you do not have all your details and information ready. This can speed up your process.
· Provide your name, church name, policy number, and the type of claim or incident that the church is reporting. The representative may give you details to prevent further loss, provide information when a claims representative may be expected, and will ask whether anyone was injured. If it is a major property claim, they may ask whether you have plans on meeting for church elsewhere. If it is for auto, they may ask whether you need another vehicle to use in your church operations.
If your claim involves liability, injury, or possible sexual abuse, please provide information in our critical incident reporting section. The insurance company will need to know of names, witnesses, the nature of the liability claim, and will probably give you steps to follow to ensure the health and well being of others.
All insurance companies really appreciate the church
being prepared with a critical incident reporting form. You can find this form on this
· On Property Claims,
it is a good idea to have a list of contents available to give to the claims representative. It is our recommendation for every church to take pictures from time to time that can provide an
accurate view of contents, building decorations, and quality of upkeep when a claim occurs. If you do not have pictures, make a comprehensive list involving as many people as you can so you can
provide an accurate list.
Assist the claims representative throughout their examination process. Be sure to point anything the representative has missed to see. Do Not Argue with the Representative! They are there to assist you and usually do an excellent job on your behalf.
· It is wise for churches to get another estimate of
replacing the damage from a third party to make sure the estimate from the insurance company will be adequate to replace or fix the damage. If there is a difference in estimates, be sure to point
this out with the claims representative. If you do not have an estimate available when you first meet your insurance representative, you can call them at a later date to negotiate. In most cases,
their first estimate is not their final say. You also have a right to question any estimate.
· Remember that many policies will have deductibles, co-insurance features, and depreciation.
Co-Insurance is a formula that takes into consideration of the value
your building or property was supposed to be insured to the value that it was actually insured. If a
Building is valued at $1,000,000 but was only insured for $500,000, then the claim about awarded may be closer to 50% ($500,000/$1,000,000). Most policies have an 80% clause to state that they will
pay full value if values are within 80% of what they were supposed to be insured. Some people who are not knowledgeable in insurance may
get upset, but if the church chooses to underinsure, it can also be argued of which part of the building was actually insured? The insurance companies
don’t like to do this so they will pay a percentage to the church. It is very important to be properly insured. One can get by with less until claim
Depreciation is placing the life of a particular item, such as
equipment, furniture, carpeting, air conditioning, or a roof. The most common misunderstanding usually involves roof damage. If the life-span of the shingles on your roof has 25 year expectancy and
they have already been on the church for 15 years, they have served the church well and the insurance companies will place a value on the singles at the time of loss, which will have a depreciation
of 60% (15 years divided by 25 years). In this case the church would receive 40% of the estimate to replace the roof.
· Most insurance companies will issue a claim’s check once
an agreed value has been reached. Very few companies will allow a church to turn in receipts during the repair process. The only exception is usually will an auto claim. Some insurance companies have
their own body shops or a list of body shops they recommend. Some companies offer a mobile service to repair windshields or glass.
· Auto claims should include:
a. insurance company information on the other part
b. who is at fault
d. list any injuries and what was done
e. any medical expenses incurred
f. drawings and details of the accident site
g. dates and times
h. police reports.
· Filing a claim is usually very easy and trouble-free. If you have a problem that cannot be resolved, please remember that most states have an insurance commissioner in the state that regulates insurance companies and usually have a complain department to handle differences. Don’t be afraid to call them. The church is paying a premium for a service, but remember, if the complain is over being under-insured, that is probably the church’s fault, not the insurance company.
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