Introduction to Home & Renters Insurance
- What your policy covers
- Information you’ll need to get a quote
- Questions to ask
- What if you can’t find coverage?
- Homeowners/Renters Insurance Shopper’s Guide
What your policy covers
Your homeowner’s policy will combine these coverages:
- Dwelling – Protects your house, detached garage and storage sheds from fire, hail, windstorm, vandalism.
- Contents – Protects furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings.
- Additional Living Expenses – Pays for extra expenses you have for lodging, food, and other items if disaster forces you from your home.
- Liability – Protects you when you or one of your family unintentionally injures someone or damages their property.
- Medical Payment – Pays the bills for others injured while on your property.
Your renter’s policy insures household contents and personal belongings the same as a homeowner’s policy but excludes dwelling coverage.
Information You’ll Need to Get a Quote
To get an accurate quote, you will usually need this information:
- Coverage and limits you want
- Description of your home
- Loss history
- Square footage
- Fire and security devices
- Distance from nearest fire department and hydrant
Questions To Ask
- How much would I save if I increase my deductible?
- What is not covered?
- Is my coverage replacement cost or actual cash value?
- Does coverage include water damage or sewer back-up?
- Does the policy cover my jewelry, antiques, or special collections?
- What other special coverages are available?
- What proof do I need in case of a loss?
What if you can’t find coverage?
If you cannot find a company that will insure your property, the Kansas FAIR Plan may accept your property.
The FAIR Plan (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) was created by the state of Kansas to insure property that insurance companies refuse to cover.
Things to know about the FAIR Plan
- Coverage for your property must be declined by three insurance companies before application can be made to the FAIR Plan.
- You can apply to the FAIR Plan through any insurance agent who sells property insurance.
- The FAIR Plan will inspect your property to determine whether you are eligible.
Approval in the Plan is not guaranteed. You do not have a guaranteed right to buy FAIR Plan coverage.
To use the online shopper’s guide, follow the steps below:
Step 1) Select your home county. We have published premium charges for every county in Kansas for your comparison shopping. Select your county from the drop-down menu and click “Continue.”
Step 2) Select a coverage amount. Amounts assume replacement cost coverage values with wood frame construction and annual premium charge. Amounts quoted may vary slightly from the insurance companies’ quoted amounts. Select a coverage amount nearest to the value of your home from the drop-down list and click “Continue.” If renting, choose $50,000.
Step 3) Determine your fire protection class. The fire protection classes listed for each company are based on the firefighting capability of a town or city ranging from 1 (most protection) to 10 (least protection). Premium charges will be higher in rural areas for protection class 9 or 10. For your current fire protection class, refer to your existing insurance policy or contact an insurance agent.
Filing a Home Insurance Claim
Most people will never file a claim under their Homeowner’s policy. But if you have to file a claim, it is important to understand the claim process and your rights and responsibilities.
If You Have a Claim
- Report loss or damage to your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible;
- Take precautions if the damages require you to leave your home.
- Secure your property;
- Lock all windows and doors;
- Survey the damages and take photographs or videos of damaged areas, if possible, and make them available to your insurance company;
- Make temporary repairs to protect your home and personal property from further damage. If you make permanent repairs before the insurance company inspects the damage, your claim may be denied. Keep all receipts and take photographs of the damage, before and after emergency repairs, to submit with your claim. You may be reimbursed for the expenses associated with temporary repairs;
- Study and know your policy limits and coverages. If you do not understand your coverage, ask your insurance agent or company representative to explain. If your policy was destroyed in your loss, contact your insurance agent or company to get a replacement copy. Usually, there is a nominal charge for another copy of the insurance policy contract;
- In some cases, the insurance company will require you to complete a claim form. You will be asked to estimate the actual cash value of the household items you lost and the cost to repair the damage to your home. If you have replacement cost coverage on your house and/or contents, you may need to include an estimate of the costs to make repairs with new materials and/or replacement items. If you have maintained a household inventory, this process will be much easier and go much more quickly. Be sure to find out from the insurance company if you should include sales tax in the cost estimates, and whether you should use exact costs, or if you can round off numbers to the nearest dollar;
- The insurance company will assign an adjuster to assess damage to your property and estimate the cost of repair. If you don’t hear from your adjuster in a reasonable length of time, contact your insurance agent or company again. Be present when the adjuster inspects your property;
- The settlement, which is the amount of money the insurance company offers for your loss, is based on the adjuster’s estimate. If you disagree with the estimate, contact the insurance company to explain your reasoning. They may be willing to make adjustments, or you may wish to ask a contractor or other professional to obtain your own estimate;
- Beware of fly-by-night contractors. Get more than one bid and hire a local reputable contractor to do the repair work;
- Make sure a written agreement between you and your insurance company has been agreed to before starting repairs.
Claim Time Frames
In Kansas, an insurance company has an obligation to investigate a filed claim, whether first or third party, within 30 days from when it was reported. If the insurance company needs additional time to conduct an investigation, it shall every 45 days thereafter send to the insured or claimant a letter setting forth the reasons additional time is needed to conclude the investigation. It is in the best interest of the company to investigate any loss promptly so that valuable evidence is not lost or destroyed. However, there are no provisions requiring a company to pay your claim within a certain period of time.
Contact the Kansas Insurance Department
Talk to your insurance company or agent first, because many claim problems are resolved at this level. If you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve the problem with your insurance company or agent, please contact the Kansas Insurance Department:
Should it be necessary to file a written complaint with the Kansas Insurance Department, be sure to include the following information to speed processing of your inquiry:
- Include your name, address and daytime phone number
- State your case by giving a full explanation of the problem and what type of insurance is involved.
- Provide the name of your insurance company, policy number, name and address.
- Supply copies of documentation you have to support your case.
- State what has been done to resolve your problem including who you have talked with and what you were told.
- Keep a copy of your letter to the Kansas Insurance Department for reference.
While the Kansas Insurance Department has recovered millions of dollars for Kansas consumers, the Department cannot force any insurance company to pay a claim if the company, in good faith, believes as a matter of law or fact that it does not owe the money in question. You may wish to hire legal counsel if a company persists in denying what you believe is a valid claim.
When do I need a lawyer and how do I find one?
See the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Lawyer Referral Service for information, or call 1-800-928-3111.