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Bellevue Washington Insurance Law Blog

Remember these steps for filing homeowners insurance claims

Even though homeowners hope that disaster will never strike, they also know that they should prepare for the worst. But even after taking that important step toward protection, the average homeowner might not be familiar with the process for filing a homeowners insurance claim. Having a firm understanding of this process can help a homeowner avoid any unnecessary headaches when dealing with the insurance company.

For some people in Washington, the first step is to file a police report. This is only if the damage was caused by something like vandalism or theft, and homeowners should be sure to contact the insurance company next. If that is not the case and the damage was caused by something else, like a fire, the first step is to notify the insurance company. While policies can differ, many require that damage be reported within a specific time frame.

Tips for negotiating an auto insurance claim

Negotiating claims with the insurance company might not be easy or fun, but it is not impossible. Still, auto insurance companies often bank on the hope that you will give up before you can get very far in the process. Being prepared and keeping the following tips in mind can make negotiating an auto insurance claim easier for some drivers in Washington.

Documentation is very important when negotiating with the insurance company. This includes things like pictures taken at the scene of the accident, the police report, repair bills, medical records and medical bills. When a claims adjuster has access to all of this information, he or she can more easily determine an appropriate settlement.

Transported via air ambulance? Expect surprise medical bills

When a person's condition is dire, an ambulance ride sometimes is not enough. Air ambulances are essential in these types of life or death situations. But when being transported to a hospital via helicopter, patients or family members probably do not anticipate the cost of saving someone's life. Surprise medical bills for these rides can land some Washington patients several tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

The biggest indicator that someone will receive a bill for an air ambulance ride is if the ambulance itself is not in his or her insurance network. However, when every second counts, those in desperate need of medical care are not really in the position to ask whether a helicopter ride will be covered. One study shows that around 72% of people who are transported in an air ambulance end up with surprise bills for the ride. Since the rides are not covered, ambulance providers can generally charge whatever they choose. Some of those charges are as high as $20,000.

Does your homeowners insurance policy cover everything you need?

The cost of owning and repairing a home can quickly add up, which is why having homeowners insurance is so important. Some lenders even require Washington homeowners to have coverage. But what does the average homeowners insurance policy actually cover? Perhaps somewhat less than what most people think.

A standard homeowners insurance policy should cover the home's physical structure, personal belongings and temporary living expenses if displaced. This means that a policy should cover more than just the cost of damages from a range of natural disasters. Personal belongings that are damaged or even stolen are generally covered, as are expenses related to temporarily living elsewhere during repairs, such as hotel bills and meals. Most homeowners policies also provide liability protection, which covers lawsuits for injury or property damage that occurs on the policyholder's property.

Insurance law and long-term disability benefits

Life might have felt predictable before you got hurt, but now you are left trying to figure out the right path forward. If you can no longer work because of your injury, that path may include long-term disability benefits. Insurance law in Washington and across the country does not make it easy for you to navigate this system, though. You may want to consider some of the following when claiming benefits.

There are two ways to secure long-term disability coverage, one of which is by privately purchasing a policy. Making a claim should resemble making claims for other types of coverage, like health care or auto insurance. While this might make the process of filing straightforward, it also means that the insurance company might deny your claim just as easily. You should do your best to be prepared to answer any tough questions your insurer might have.

Renters insurance provides helpful coverage

Renters rely on their landlords for repairs around their houses or apartments. Since a landlord is usually just a phone call away, the average renter in Washington might not think that he or she needs renters insurance. But renters insurance is not like homeowners' insurance. It is not for damages or repairs to the property, but things like possessions or injuries that happen on the property.

Renters insurance covers three main things. One area is premises liability, which is a type of legal claim that someone can make if he or she is injured on another person's property. Should an injured party sue and secure compensation, that is where renters insurance should step in and cover the resulting costs.

Insurance law and your disputed homeowners claim

Your home is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make. Protecting that investment is important to your current well-being as well as your future financial success, so you made the smart decision to purchase homeowners insurance coverage. But you might not have realized that insurance companies rely on what you do not know when offering you coverage, and later when denying your claim. Washington's complicated insurance law does not make this any easier.

A homeowners insurance policy will cover specific aspects of a home that are damaged or are considered to be a loss. This seems fairly straightforward, but insurance law is anything but that. Your insurance company uses complicated formulas to decide whether they actually have to cover any damages to your home and, if so, what they will pay. Like many other homeowners, you might be frustrated by the possible outcomes.

Insurance companies may not cover facility fees

Patients want to know what they are paying for before they receive care, but few are actually given that information. This is because more and more people in Washington are having to shell out for much more than just their copays. Facility fees are driving up the cost of seeking medical care, and they are becoming more and more common.

One out-of-state woman learned about facility fees only after she ended up owing nearly $600 for seeing a doctor about back pain. Her $45 copay only made up a fraction of the total bill, with the rest of the bill coming from the $550 facility fee. She was not aware of the facility fee before seeking medical care, especially since she chose her medical insurance because it supposedly made the out-of-pocket expenses very clear.

Insurance law: Prior authorization is hurting patients

Prior authorization is a key component of health insurance, but it has not always been the enormous hurdle that it is today. Health insurance companies require prior authorization for some of the most routine aspects of health care, such as filling prescriptions. Until significant changes are made to insurance law, Washington patients will still need to understand the role that prior authorization plays in their health as well as their rights when fighting the insurance companies.

Insurance companies originally used prior authorization to make sure that high-cost procedures and hospitalizations were appropriate. Now, prior authorization seems like little more than a tool for cutting costs at the expense of patient health. People living with diabetes now need to routinely seek prior authorization for medication, as do patients with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder.

Insurance law and making a claim

The period of time following a car accident can be confusing and overwhelming, and contacting the insurance company might be the last thing on a victim's mind. But it is not a good idea to put off filing a claim until later. Even though resolving a claim and dealing with other aspects of insurance law can be time-consuming, most insurance companies in Washington have strict deadlines for filing.

Filing a police report is usually one of the first steps following a car accident. Since the report will generally show who was at fault, it will provide guidance on which insurance company to contact. In general, people should contact the insurance company of the driver considered at fault. If both drivers share fault or it is not clear where fault actually lies, contacting both is advisable. Filing a claim right away is best to avoid missing any deadlines.