A huge tree fell on Michael Matra's house last summer during a hurricane. A year later, he's still trying to get the insurance company to pay for damages.
Michael says, "They didn't come through with paying for damage of the landscaping, the rock wall, the sidewalk. There was some internal stuff that they have not taken care of yet at this point."
Discrepancies between the payment a homeowner expects and what an insurer actually covers are not unusual, according to Consumer Reports National Research Center. It surveyed more than 11-thousand subscribers who've filed claims in the past few years.
Amanda Walker with Consumer Reports explains, "We found for large claims - when the damage was $25,000 or more - 19% of the people we polled did not agree with the amount their insurers wanted to pay."
Some of the lower-rated national insurers are big-name companies, including Farmers Insurance and Allstate.
Amanda adds, "But we also found most people were very satisfied with their insurer."
Among the top-rated home insurers in Consumer Reports' survey are Amica (uh-Mee-kuh) and U-S-A-A, a company that primarily serves families with some connection to the military.
Amanda says, "If you've got a large claim and you're not happy with the amount your insurer is offering to pay - try disputing it. People with a large claim that did so received $6,000 more on average than those who did not."
When disputing an insurance claim:
- Request a meeting to review your estimate line-by-line.
- Ask to see specific contract language if you're told your policy does not cover the damage.
- As a last resort, consider getting a public adjuster.
And be sure you read your policy over carefully before disaster strikes. Many companies have reduced their coverage, especially when it comes to hurricane damage.
Insurance premiums have gone up anywhere from five to 10 percent in recent years, according to industry experts. And you can expect to see rates jump again this year by as much as 12%!
Two ways to cut your costs - get your home AND car insurance with the same company. And consider increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000.