Insurance firms say that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect the ability of many Americans to pay their homeowners and renters insurance, and many are responding by offering temporary payment suspensions.
“For auto and home insurance customers who are negatively impacted by the coronavirus, we are extending payment dates and waiving fees,” insurer Liberty Mutual said in a statement.
Insurers also say their response times for claims could also be slowed. “There’s actually a physical impediment in terms of the claims being resolved or inspections being resolved,” Fabio Faschi, property and casualty team lead at Policygenius, told Forbes.com. Insurers may not be able to dispatch assessors to resolve claims. Some companies are using video alternatives in certain situations.
“Renters insurance is a very common product in which insurance companies are more liberal in terms of assessing claims by having the client simply provide evidence of the loss via photo or video rather than have an actual inspection,” Faschi told Forbes.com. “I think the [broader] market hasn’t largely evolved to that extent because, obviously, for more significant claims, the insurance companies generally go and do a thorough inspection of the property.” Also, insurance companies say that the more time people spend sheltering in place, the more likely something will break and require a claim.
Insurance companies also say they’re fielding calls on liability coverage at this time. For example, are you covered if the food delivery person slips on your front porch? Additionally, a legal debate is brewing over whether there is a liability if you potentially infect another person with COVID-19. “Many homeowners and renters insurance policies have virus and pathogen exclusions, which could be applicable to liability, loss of use, physical damage, and other coverages,” a spokesperson with Farmers Insurance told Forbes.com.
Insurance experts advise homeowners and renters to call their insurer to evaluate their policy for coverage and savings.