It must be said, the coronavirus has made most aspects of life in 2020 more challenging. It has certainly changed the current landscape of the residential rental market with impacts set to be felt for some time to come, writes Sharon Fox-Slater.
Amid all the change, it’s interesting to note some things have remained exactly the same.
One being what policyholders expect of their landlord insurer when they need them most. So, how do you submit a successful claim during these unusual times? It’s a valid question and one asked regularly of insurers.
Thankfully, the answer isn’t hidden away under lock and key like some kind of industry secret. In fact, the road to a successful landlord’s insurance claim may be smoother than you think.
This is what you should do when it comes time to making a claim:
Start a conversation with your insurer
Once your insurer knows there is a claim (or possible claim) at the property, they can help.
While the insurer can’t act on your behalf, they can answer important questions about the policy to help you understand coverage and what steps should be taken to prevent further loss.
Different insurers have different preferences when it comes to the claims process. To make sure you are not jeopardising your claim by proceeding with unauthorised repairs, agreeing to any loss or settling on the bond, it is best to speak with the insurer to understand what they require.
With moratoriums on eviction extended in some states through to 2021, it has been (and continues to be) a difficult time for landlords and property managers to navigate. When it comes to loss of rent, the current climate makes things a little more complicated than usual.
There is some uncertainty around how a claim might progress when a tenant is still in the property.
First, it is important to reach out to your tenants to identify whether they are in hardship because of COVID-19. This will help to guide the next steps you take and what action may be possible. Making sure you are acting within the current legislation and have issued all required notices is going to be critical to the success of your claim.
Just as this has been new territory for landlords and property managers, insurers are too adjusting to the ever-changing environment. One thing that is certain is that lodging a claim promptly will allow your insurer to support you through the unknown.
Recognising this is a unique situation for everyone, EBM RentCover has a specialised team dedicated to processing any claims where the tenant has been impacted by COVID-19. Some insurers are also taking the opportunity to update their websites with any changes to laws and information for landlords as they happen.
Whether you self-manage or employ a property manager, the requirements when it comes time to claim are the same. Every speedy and successful claim starts with a strong roster of supporting evidence.
Insurance claims are assessed based on the insurer being able to see there has been a loss and identify where in the policy that loss falls, if at all. This work really begins before there’s even a problem.
Meticulous record keeping from the beginning and throughout a tenancy will make it simple for your insurer to see where things start to go pear-shaped. A thorough entry condition report, complete with colour photographs will help to put a timeline on issues should they arise.
A tidy rental ledger showing dates and amounts of rental payments will show if they start to become irregular or stop entirely.
These are common pieces of evidence requested by landlord insurers for loss of rent or damage claims. Incomplete records can impact a claim, so it’s best to speak with your insurer if you have any concerns. On the bright side, when the information is all together as soon as the claim is ready to go, it can make for a quick assessment.
Lodge your claim
Once it has been confirmed there is a loss and it is time to claim, there is no benefit in delaying the lodgement. The sooner the claim is lodged with all required information, the sooner it can be assessed and the sooner you will have an outcome.
The specific information that will be required to support your claim will depend on the type of claim, the type of policy and the insurer. EBM RentCover has an online portal for all claims lodgements, allowing you to save drafts and add to the claim before you submit.
If any of your supporting evidence is missing from the initial lodgement, it may be possible to submit additional information at a later date. As always, it is best to ask the insurer what they need to avoid delays once the claim is submitted.
The financial and emotional stress of an insurance claim against your investment can be overwhelming. Particularly if you don’t know where to begin. By working together with your insurer from the outset, you’re sure to get the best outcome under your policy.
By Sharon Fox-Slater, EBM RentCover