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FAQ

About Virani Law

  • You can contact Virani law at any point in the claims process, however the earlier the better. Often homeowners make small mistakes early on which compound as the claim progresses, Virani Law can assist you in avoiding or minimizing these mistakes.

  • The adjuster works for the insurance company and prioritizes the Insurance Company’s interests. From the adjuster’s perspective, negotiating with a layperson homeowner is easier and more effective for the Insurance Company than negotiating with a lawyer. You can retain a lawyer to even the playing field in negotiations without resorting to formalized court proceedings.

  • The free consultation is an opportunity for you to be heard. We will listen to the specifics of your loss and the issues and concerns you’ve encountered with the claim process. We will determine how Virani Law might be able to assist you, and begin strategizing and setting expectations.

  • We’re happy to discuss fees in the free consultation process once we have a better idea of how we may be able to assist you.

  • No. You can reach out at any point in the claims process. If you have an offer in hand it may effect the overall negotiation strategy, it will also provide realistic strategy and expectations.

Getting Started

  • Generally, a home insurance policy will cover three areas of loss:

    1. the structure itself
    2. the personal contents in the home, and
    3. the increased living expenses caused by moving out of the home.

     

    Renter’s Insurance works the same way, but probably won’t include structural coverage, and landlords probably won’t have full contents or living expense coverage.

  • Policy limits are the upper boundaries of what the insurer will pay for a loss. In most policies each area of coverage will have its own limit, however some policies provide a blanket limit that covers all expenses in whatever proportion makes sense for the claim.

  • Contact your adjuster or broker and request the declaration page and policy wording. Depending on your insurer, you may need to make a formal request.

  • A declaration page is the overview of your policy coverages and limits. It is typically 2-5 pages and lists out each category of coverage, the relevant limits, and any endorsements or additional clauses you purchased.

  • An adjuster is the insurance company’s representative tasked with navigating your claim. The adjuster may work for the insurer directly, or through a third party adjusting firm contracted by the insurer. They are operating to maximize the insurance company’s interests.

Structure

  • This will vary depending on your adjuster, your Insurance Company, and the terms of your policy. Most insurers have a list of “preferred vendors” who they will hire directly or heavily suggest that you hire. However, you are entitled to some say in this selection, especially if you’re the one signing the contract.

  • Your insurance policy will generally require that your home be repaired or rebuilt as closely as possible to the state it was in before the loss. However, the current building code may require some changes (see bylaw or upgrade coverage below). Additionally, any renovations you did prior to the loss which were not disclosed to the insurer may not be covered (see renovations below).

  • Anytime you contemplate or begin renovations on your home, your Insurance Company should be notified. Some policies even have terms requiring notice within specific timeframes. Any renovation you failed to disclose to the insurer may not be covered in the cost to repair after a loss. This means that the undisclosed improvements you made will have to be made again at your expense.

  • When a home is in need of repair it often cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was because some of the original building aspects would be against current building codes. Changes will have to be made so that the new work conforms with current codes. If making the changes results in increased costs, coverage amounts may be limited by the terms of your policy.

  • Generally, no, the home should be built as closely as possible to the state it was in before the loss. However, out-of-date finishes may need to be modernized, and some policies or endorsements allow the insurer to use the most common industry finishes instead of exact replacements.

Contents

  • A schedule of loss (“SOL”) is a list of all of the personal contents damaged or destroyed by the loss. It includes descriptions, quantities, and values. It may be created by the homeowner, the insurer, or a third party assessment firm. Regardless of who creates the list, the homeowner should be critical and make adjustments where necessary.

  • The “Actual Cash Value” or “ACV” of an item is its worth at the time of the loss. Items depreciate over time, so while a sofa may have been valued at $800.00 when it was purchased, it will only be worth $400.00 after 5 years of wear and tear have elapsed.

  • The “Replacement Value” is the retail cost of replacing an item on the market today.

  • Yes, but you shouldn’t do so unless absolutely necessary. If an item is irreplaceable and leaving it in place will lead to further damage, you should remove the item. Carefully document any items you remove, and inform he insurer as soon as practicable. Remember that the Insurer may want to inspect the item, so safeguard it but don’t start restorations until they have had a chance to make an inspection request.

  • Generally, the insurer is entitled to attempt to restore or clean your personal contents. If the items are irreparable, or if the costs of repair or cleaning would be more than the cost to replace the item, you should discuss the matter with your adjuster.

Additional Living Expenses

  • Having to live outside your home due to damage or loss will cause an increase in your daily living expenses. Your policy should respond to those new and increased costs.

  • Any costs which are necessary in order for you and your family to continue living your normal lives should be covered, but only in the amount they have increased from what your normal expenses would be. For example: the entire costs of staying in a hotel should be covered, but cable bills or a theme park passes will not be. The cable bill has not increased, and the theme park pass is not necessary.

  • You should stay somewhere safe, but consult your policy since many suggest that the place you stay should be comparable to your home. In other words, you cannot benefit by moving into a more luxurious residence at the expense of your insurer, and the insurer cannot force you to stay in an unsuitable accommodation to save money.

  • Your normal bills will continue. You will still be responsible for mortgage or possibly rent payments, as well as continuing utilities. If you are told that you will be out of your home for a long period of time, you may want to inquire with your cable provider about transferring your account to the temporary residence or cancelling temporarily.

  • An agreement with the insurer to accept a lump sum of cash for settlement of one or more aspects of the claim. This lump sum transfers the responsibility for rectifying those concerns to the homeowner. In other words, if you accept a global cash settlement on your ALEs, it is then your responsibility to budget in order to cover all the costs you will encounter while you are out of your home. If you go over budget and cannot cover continued accommodation or moving costs, the Insurer will not provide additional funds. The same can be said for the global cash settlements for structural repair or content replacement.

Commercial

  • Visit the “Structure” section of this Resource Centre to learn more about the repair or rebuild portion of your claim.

  • Generally, if your business created it, modified it, or combined it and you then sell it (either direct to customers or to another link in your supply chain): that item will be considered inventory. If it’s a fixed asset such as a machine, container, or fixture: that item will generally be considered equipment. Most of the rest of the contents in your building will be business contents: things that are used to run the business from day-to-day.

  • Tools are a common feature of many different businesses, and they might even hold a special place in your policy of insurance. Some policies treat tools as their own category of content, or they might create an extra pool of money just for tools. Other policies will treat tools as equipment: something substantially “permanent” that is used to do the work you do. Look at your declaration page to see if you have a separate “tool” coverage heading, or a “tool floater” that provides extended coverage. Otherwise, consult the wording of your policy to see how tools should be categorized.

  • Most policies consider point-of-sale systems to be business content. These systems don’t actually create or modify anything, they simply keep track of what is coming in and what is going out.

    Similarly, at a restaurant: ovens and kitchen items will likely be equipment because you use them to create and transform the food, but tables and chairs will probably be business contents.  Even though they are necessary, they do not actually perform any function in creating or modifying the product.

  • Visit the “Contents” section of this Resource Centre to learn more about content coverage generally, and how to identify and avoid valuation pitfalls.