These are the broadest forms of coverage typically purchased by consumers. No matter how extensive the coverage is, you can expect conditions, limitations, and exclusions all meant to focus the policy to respond to certain anticipated losses, while identifying others that will not be covered. If you focus on what is NOT covered, you will better understand what you are buying. If something you want/need covered is excluded, there is often a way to add it for an additional charge, or by means of using an additional policy. This is why purchasing online directly can be as dangerous as it is convenient.
Whether your home is a restored cottage, a new contemporary designer standout, or a magnificent vintage estate, they all burn the same. Fire, Explosion, Water, Storms, Earthquake, and Floods respect nothing.
Is your home your personal residence, or an investment for rental income? It is important you get the right form.
Next is your choice of many other options to address your specific needs.
This is determined by your wealth, lifestyle, and risk tolerance.
Are you just like all of your neighbors? Should your insurance be just like their's? Homeowners Insurance has to match what you need or it will let you down. Our job is to get this right. We do that by not making assumptions.
Generally what happens is you report the loss, the insurer or someone they hire (known as an outside inspector or adjuster) researches the details, and reports back to the insurer who begins the process of figuring out how much they owe you. Often this is a very straight forward process. The simpler it is the quicker you will hear that you are covered for "$" amount, or the 5 words that most disappoint and anger policyholders: "sorry, but you're not covered."
When there is coverage, you can expect a longer more difficult process than anyone wishes on you. The reasons are local building code compliance, the potential need for new utility connections, and the availability of skilled labor and contractors. One of our clients was recently forced to stay in a hotel for six months while their fire damaged garage was being repaired. There was nothing anyone could do to speed up PG&E who was requiring a new service connection, and controlling the timing to get that done.
No matter how fast your insurer can deliver a check to you, they can't re-build your home for you.
If your home is a Condo, TIC, Co-op, or Townhome, whatever you do will generally have to be coordinated with the HOA, or whatever legal entity manages the property for the benefit of member owners.
Joszi M., San Francisco: It's important to know you respond quickly, and get all the details right, but even more than that - I value your advice regarding my investment property.
Ron G., Novato: When my Home insurer dropped me for no good reason, I dropped it all on Tony, and he had it taken care of before I got back from vacation - saved me hundreds too.
Dan H., Ventura: Tony called me before I even reported the claim! After the firefighters helped me save my house, they told me it was only because I had created the defensible space - Tony made a point of impressing me with the need to do that when I bought the ranch.
Donald C., Daly City: I could have sworn I stepped on the brake, but the car didn't stop until after it went through the garage door, and pushed the pool table so hard it moved the rear wall. Tony took care of us, including referring us to a hotel that let us keep our dog with us.
Gus K., San Francisco: Insurance is expensive, but I was never so happy that Tony advised me to buy more as when we got the call our restaurant was burning. Instead of being out of business, we were able to open better than before, and free of the worries of compensating the other business claimants who suffered losses with us.
Q: From Santa Rosa wildfire - We lost our home. The insured paid for the house, but now they are holding up payment for our Personal Property. They say we need to provide a written list of items we are claiming. That's a big job, and we're so upset!
A: Yes it is. Unless the claim involves items that are listed for a specific $ amount, or the insurer chooses to waive their legal right to have you "prove your loss," how else would anyone be able to tell how much they owe you? On the flip side of that, maybe the CA Dept of Ins. should impose a requirement to payout on any coverage limits the policyholder has paid for? That would certainly make it easier for everyone to know the maximum amount they can collect, and receive fair payment sooner without all the difficulty of proving what they lost. However - that is not the law now, and your policy is a contract that defines your rights and obligations.
NOTE: VIA has always recommended that policyholders inventory their property in advance. If nothing else, take pictures of things in each room, closet, cabinet etc., and store those at some other location off premises.
Q: From South San Francisco water damage - After all these years of paying, and never having a claim - will we have to fight with the insurer to collect what they owe us now?
A: No. You will have to cooperate with their investigation, provide repair and/or replacement estimates, keep track of all of your lost income, and extra expenses caused by your clean up efforts, and be prepared to back up all of your claims.
Water and mud everywhere almost 12" deep! Water doesn't mix well with paper, metals, and electronics. This one cost over $200,000. Without such an excellent policy - this business may not have survived. How important is that?