Arizona Insurance Terms
Arizona insurance policies contain a number of legal terms that have very specific meanings. The following is a laymen’s explanation of these terms, as well as how these terms may be applicable in the context of an insurance claim.
An insurance claims adjuster is an individual employed by your insurance company to work on your insurance claim. Insurance claims adjusters work for the insurance company, not you. You should always consider the relationship between you and your insurance claims adjuster as adversarial. This does not mean you can’t work with this individual. However, you cannot trust this individual. An insurance claims adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money.
An insurance agent sells insurance policies, nothing more. Despite what you see on the commercials, your agent cannot help you with your insurance claim. Typically, an agent is not even an employee of the insurance company but rather an independent contractor authorized to sell the company’s products. This is true of almost all of the major companies including State Farm Insurance, Allstate Insurance, American Family Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Safeco Insurance and just about every other major insurance company.
Bad faith is a legal term, which describes the situation when an insurance company unreasonably puts its interests ahead of its insured’s interests. Unfortunately, bad faith happens all the time. In an insurance dispute most people simply accept what their insurance company tells them without ever challenging the company’s findings. If you have an insurance claim and you are uncertain whether the company is acting in bad faith, assume it is.
A Carrier is simply another term for insurance company.
A claim or loss are terms used to describe damage to your property which results in seeking insurance coverage under your insurance contract. There are home insurance claims, accident insurance claims, and house contents insurance claims, among others. The terms claim and loss are interchangeable.
Contents is a descriptive word for everything that is in or on your property that is not part of the structure of the property. Almost all home insurance includes house contents insurance. Contents include things such as furniture, artwork, kitchen equipment and grocery items, all that stuff in your garage or basement, and anything which might be in your closets or storage spaces.
A contractor is an individual or company who is hired to repair damage to your property. Be very careful about contractors recommended or approved by your insurance carrier. These contractors typically agree to accept less money for a higher volume of work. It’s always better to use your own contractors.
Coverage refers to how much money is available under your insurance policy and what types of items your policy will pay for. Coverage can be tricky. You may have a policy for a significant amount of money, but there may be coverage exclusions leading many of your valuables to be without protection. It is extremely important to know what coverage you have.
The declaration page is part of your policy documents, found at the very beginning of the policy documents, which outlines how much money your policy has available for different types of coverage. It is extremely important that you read your declaration page and understand how much money is available and what kind of coverage’s you have.
An estimate is an evaluation of what it will cost to repair or replace your property. Always prepare your own estimates or have qualified help prepare estimates for you. Do not rely on your insurance company’s estimates. If necessary, it is worth the money to obtain qualified help such as legitimate contractors or contents specialists to assist you with your estimates.
An exclusion is a term to describe something that is not covered in your insurance policy. These are the basis for most insurance denials. Most policies have many exclusions. For instance, mold is not covered by most policies. Flooding is not covered by many policies. There are typically exclusions for collectibles, antiques, cash or valuable metals, certain types of electrical equipment and business materials or tools in most homeowners policies. You need to know what exclusions are in your policy.
An insurance policy is the contract between you and your insurance company. Contrary to the commercials, an insurance policy is a business contract, nothing more. You need to understand what your contract (policy) says. If you have questions about your insurance policy, ask your agent. If your agent doesn’t give you useful information contact an expert.
Proof of Loss
A proof of loss is a sworn statement outlining your damages in an insurance claim. Insurance companies like to intimidate their customers. Your insurance company may require a proof of loss in addition to a simple contents list because they assume you are lying.
A public adjuster is an individual who works for people, as opposed to the insurance companies, in adjusting home insurance claims. A public adjuster will typically charge a percentage fee on monies obtained through the public adjuster’s efforts. A good public adjuster is an expert at insurance dispute resolution and in dealing with insurance denials. Insurance companies hate it when individuals hire public adjusters. They try to talk people out of using public adjusters claiming that the money paid should go to the insured. In reality, a public adjuster will almost always get you significantly more money for your home insurance claim than the insurance company will voluntarily pay even after fees are taken out.