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Minneapolis Insurance Law Blog

Is your insurance policy your maintenance policy?

Some homeowners view their insurance policy as a sort of maintenance policy that they can rely on for making major home repairs. When their roof begins to age, they hope for a hailstorm to strike their Minnesota home and allow them to make a claim on their insurance policy.

This may not be wise. All insurance companies factor the number of claims made into their underwriting of your policy. There are numerous factors that go into pricing your homeowner's policy, from the value of your home, where you live, the type claims that typically occur in your area and the number of claims made. This means when you make an entirely valid claim that is undisputedly within your policy coverage, you may be inviting the nonrenewal of your policy.

Are you really covered by your homeowners policy?

When you own a home, you have a great many expenses. Insurance, while necessary, is not much fun. If you have no claims, you may feel as if you are wasting money, since there is no return on your investment. With all of your other expenses, you may want to place the minimum you would potentially need to replace your home in a worst case scenario.

The risk may be that when you move into a new home, you may lose track of time. With home values rebounding, you could see a reasonable appreciation of your home value on a yearly basis. 

Act of God?

Insurance law is full of potential problems for the unwary. Contracts for insurance can be many pages long and how many homeowners sit down and carefully read the documents the insurance company is mandated to send every year? Nonetheless, it is that document that controls the terms and conditions of your insurance and being familiar with its language is a good idea for every homeowner.

One area that often causes problems and misunderstandings is damage caused by an "Act of God." This term is used to describe actions that are beyond the scope of many insurance policies, and policies often contain explicit disclaimers that note this type of coverage is not within the terms of the policy.

Volatile weather increases risk to manufactured homes

Arguments continue on whether climate change is human-caused or just a natural variation in Earth's climate. Insurance companies appear to take the issues somewhat more seriously than do politicians because when severe weather spawns massive hailstorms, tornados, windstorms and torrential rain for a given location, they receive the bill for the damage suffered by their numerous customers.

Minnesota has seen its share of severe weather events during the last few years. Fortunately, the number of large tornados has been limited, but extreme wind and rain events have caused significant structural and flood damage for thousands of Minnesota policyholders. And a recent study from researchers at Michigan State University. It found that there is a frightening prospect for a "massive property damage and death" from manufactured homes and volatile weather.

Insurers like delays

For an insurance company, delays are always good. Especially when they already have your money. Which they do. If you fail to pay a premium on time, they can cancel your policy and refuse to pay any claims made after they claim your policy was no longer in place. However, if you have a loss, they can delay payment for months or years, often for invalid or illegal reasons. 

To prevent this, there are what are known as "bad faith" suits, where insurers can be sued for intentionally failing to pay a valid claim. But, again, these suits take time, and if you are a Minnesota homeowner and your property suffered damage in a storm, you may not have time to wait before you repair the damage.

Dues Acceleration - Demystifying the When, How, and Why

One of the common issues Minnesota Homeowner's Associations face is what to do with the homeowner who refuses to pay their dues. The Association has many tools to deal with this type of situation - one of which is the option to accelerate annual dues. This means that instead of having 12 equal installments of monthly dues, all installments for the fiscal year would be combined and deemed immediately due as a lump sum. This practice, when applied correctly, helps protect the Association's bottom line and encourages payment. Acceleration, however, is only authorized in certain specific situations. This article is a guide to understanding whether your association has the legal authority to accelerate dues and the proper steps to doing so successfully.

Are you sure you know what your insurance covers?

We all know that language changes over time. Sometimes the meaning of a word expands. Sometimes it contracts. The word "dog" is an example. It's a term that applies to any breed of the canine variety. But there was a time when "hound" was the preferred word and "dog" was used in reference to a particularly big, fierce animal.

Those with experience in the law recognize that such shifts can cause a lot of problems. In the area of the property insurance, changing interpretations of a single word might mean that a risk issue that a Minnesota property owner legitimately thought was covered by a policy now is not. Insurance companies look to take advantage of such changes to protect their best interests. To protect individual property owner interests, consulting skilled legal counsel is advised.

Was my insurance claim denied unfairly?

Paying for insurance can be a frustrating financial obligation. You know that you need to so you can have health, home and car insurance, but you also hope that you never go through an experience that results in having to file a claim. 

This is why it can be so devastating when an insurance claim is denied. In most cases, you may be reeling from an accident, injuries or damage to your property, and the only peace of mind you might have is the assurance that insurance will take care of everything. If your claim is denied or delayed, it can be crucial that you establish whether that decision was made lawfully or not.

Lender-placed insurance may be risky for consumers

In some ways, insurance is like taxes. Most of us would prefer not to have to carry coverage or fork over hard-earned income to government, whether it's to Bloomington, Hennepin County or the state. That's not the way Minnesota law works, however. Certain insurance policies and tax payments are required. It's not just for the protection of individuals, but also for the good of the society generally.

Consumers usually can take advantage of provisions in the laws to minimize their taxes. When it comes to getting insurance, they can shop around for the best deal. The main issue then might be that the insurer fails to act in good faith on a claim.