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COVID-19 and Filing Claims: Here’s What You Should Know

Filing claim on a laptop

The COVID-19 crisis has upended everything from filing an auto insurance claim to getting a home inspection completed for a home insurance policy. But here is a piece of good news: in either scenario, both tasks can be managed digitally.

The most recent Leger survey on the topic of COVID-19 finds 29% of Canadians would only be comfortable with the easing of those restrictions after no new infections are reported for at least two weeks. Another 25% say the restrictions should remain until there are only sporadic cases discovered, and 21% believe it's best to keep society in lockdown until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

Regardless, if you have questions about filing an auto or home insurance claim or home inspections during the COVID-19 confinement period, here’s what you should know:

What to Do If You’ve Been in a Car Accident

If you've been involved in a minor car accident where no one is injured, and damages to all vehicles appear to be less than $2,000, take photos and video of the damage to your car. Exchange drivers licence and insurance information with the other driver. Afterwards, contact your insurance company, and call or visit a collision reporting centre (if you’re in Ontario) within 24 hours of the collision. However, if anyone is injured or damage looks to be more than $2,000, immediately call the police.

If you are in Alberta, the process is similar if you are involved in a minor collision where no one is hurt, and damages appear to be less than $2,000. Likewise, if someone is hurt or the damage is greater than $2,000, immediately call the police or 9-1-1. In addition to notifying your insurer, the Government of Alberta provides steps to follow if you have been in an accident.

Filing a Claim Electronically

Whether you’ve been in a collision and need to file an auto claim, or something’s gone awry at home and you need to place a home insurance claim, most if not all insurers provide a means to do so electronically through a website or mobile app.

If you need to file a claim digitally, your first step should be to contact your insurance company. You may also need to do the following:

  • Take videos and photos to document the damage to your vehicle, home, or property
  • Itemize the estimated losses and file the claim as soon as possible
  • Pay the deductible associated with your coverage
  • Speak to an insurance adjuster

The Insurance Bureau of Canada provides several tips to consider if you need to file a home or auto claim.

What to Do If You Require a Home Inspection

Getting a home inspection is not mandatory. However, it is worthwhile to consider hiring an accredited home inspector to ensure the home you wish to buy and insure. Why? For starters, getting a home inspection will determine the condition of the house, including its structural soundness, the plumbing, electrical systems and its roof and insulation. Furthermore, it can help reduce the cost of your home insurance policy.

In light of present circumstances, it is highly likely home inspectors will abide by the government’s physical distancing recommendations and will conduct any inspection report reviews by phone or teleconference with you.

In Ontario, the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors can help you find an experienced, accredited home inspector. In Alberta, you might want to get in touch with the Alberta Professional Home Inspectors Society.

What If I Can’t Afford to Pay My Insurance Bill?

If the lockdown has left you unemployed or impacted your household’s monthly income and you’re struggling to pay your bills, your insurance provider may be able to help. Many insurers are offering their customers rebates, refunds, payment deferrals and other insurance rate relief measures to help them cope.

Whether you are concerned about being able to pay your monthly auto insurance premium or home insurance bill, do not hesitate to contact your insurance company or broker. It’s best to be proactive by letting them know you’re in a cash crunch and find out how they can help alleviate your concerns.