Insurance companies offer a plethora of options to help you protect your home, family, possessions and business. Hopefully you will never need to use your coverage, but you may find yourself in a situation where filing a claim is necessary. Filing claims with your insurance company is the primary way that you will use the coverage you have. However, many people do not file claims when they should, leading to losses that can be difficult to recover from.

Consider the toll that Hurricane Irene took on the East Coast last year. Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged and some locations were hit with complete destruction. According an article from the Minuteman News Center, over $240 million in coverage was doled out to residents with insurance coverage for any damage sustained. The homeowners and business owners who filed one of the 60,000 insurance claims after Irene were given various levels of coverage based on their policies. Those who didn’t file a claim for damages sustained received nothing.

One of the most important lessons to learn from an event like Hurricane Irene is knowing that your insurance policy won’t help protect you unless you use it. Although many did file insurance claims in CT after the storm, the Minuteman News Center reports that industry experts are concerned that many consumers don’t understand the importance of filing claims with your insurance company:

“[Homeowners] learned how complicated it can be to file a substantial claim, which outdoor accessories weren’t covered, what insurance loopholes can leave them with next to nothing, and what to add to their coulda, woulda, shoulda list, perhaps now knowing how to better prepare for the next storm.”

No matter what the problem is – be it a car accident, natural disaster, etc. – make sure you understand your coverage and how to use it. Speak with your local insurance agent to find out how to file claims when you need your coverage the most.

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