How and When to File a Landlord Insurance Claim
Landlord insurance protects building owners from financial loss due to property damage or liability claims. At City Building Owners Insurance, we help owners of apartment buildings, brownstones, and condominium and co-op building obtain the right insurance coverage at the best price. That said, we don’t wish losses upon anyone.
Having financial protection is good, but it can’t make up for the inconvenience and frustration of filing a landlord insurance claim and dealing with the aftermath. This article offers guidance to help reduce the aggravation of a loss and to help you determine whether filing an official landlord insurance claim makes financial sense.
What Landlords Should Do Before a Claim
Before a claim occurs, building owners need to document the current condition of their properties. Much like a home inventory, this record makes it easier to recover from a loss by cataloging the pre-loss state of the building.
- Take photos of individual units and common areas.
- Keep any receipts and records for renovations and upgrades.
- Inventory the existing building systems—plumbing, electricity, heating and cooling; include the year and make of mechanical systems.
This information will make the recovery process much smoother by providing a record and guide for recreating the building. Having these details on hand will also make it easier to determine how much insurance coverage you need in the first place.
How to File a Landlord Insurance Claim
When you experience a sudden loss at the property—such as a fire, a theft or sewage backup, to name a few—the following steps can make the claims process smoother:
Call the authorities, if applicable
If the incident involves burglary, vandalism or other crime, notify the police. If the loss involves a New York City agency, such as the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) or the Department of Transportation, contact the appropriate authorities and file a report. Collect the names of the officers or representatives you speak with and obtain a copy of the incident report for your—and the insurance company’s—records.
Contact your insurance agent
Call your insurance agent or broker immediately. A knowledgeable insurance partner can offer guidance regarding whether or not to file a claim (more on this below). Depending on the extent of the damage, you may want to speak with your agent about hiring an independent adjuster, who will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Document the incident
Write down what happened to the best of your ability, sooner rather than later. Note any injuries that occurred. Make a detailed list of any items that were damaged, as well as their value. Take photos of damaged items and property damage.
Make any urgent repairs
You’ll generally want to leave everything in place until an insurance adjuster arrives to evaluate the damage. The exceptions to this guideline, however, include any damage that requires immediate attention or creates an unsafe situation, such as water damage that can lead to mold or a tree that crashes through the roof. In such circumstances, take photos and proceed with corrective action, saving any receipts.
Meet with the adjuster
Armed with the above information, you should be ready to meet with an adjuster—either an independent adjuster or one who works for the insurance company, depending on the size of the claim. The adjuster will assess the damage, gather evidence and collect your documentation.
File documentation for future reference
Keep track of any documentation related to the incident, including police reports, written accounts and photos. Hopefully, you won’t need this information once the repairs are complete, but if a legal claim arises later, such documentation could prove valuable.
Complete and return claim forms
Once you’ve reached an agreement with the insurance company, complete any paperwork required by your insurance company. Returning the forms promptly will assist with speedy resolution. (If working with an independent adjuster, this professional may handle these administrative tasks for you.)
Your insurance agent will guide you through the above process, answering any questions you might have and advising you on the next steps. In fact, in some cases, your agent may counsel you against filing an insurance claim.
When Not to File a Claim
Another service that your insurance agent can provide is advice when filing a claim doesn’t serve your best interest.
- For instance, one of the best ways to manage your insurance premiums is to choose a higher deductible and to pay for small claims out of pocket.
- Another thing to keep in mind is whether filing a claim will ultimately cost more by negating any “claim-free discounts” that may be in effect.
Regardless, your insurance partner can advise you on the best course of action for your specific situation and help make the process as stress-free as possible. If you have any questions about this article or your current insurance coverage, please call our office at 877-576-5200 or post a comment below.
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