How Allstate Renter's Insurance Saved My Business

We all remember hearing the phrase, "You're in good hands with Allstate" from the commercials on television and radio. Although I am not a person to be easily swayed by advertising, in this case, when I had to file a claim, the jingle turned out to be true! My insurance policy from Allstate really did save my work-at-home business from going under, and made my claims process and the disruption to my life and my business much less stressful, among many other things!

I selected my renters' insurance policy after carefully reading all the options presented by the different companies, and chose a policy from Allstate that covered $100,000 worth of contents, $30,000 worth of building improvements, and $20,000 worth of living expenses, with a thousand dollar deductible (this deductible is per claim). (I selected this policy because Allstate also offers coverage for identity theft on its renters' insurance policies.) I never expected to have to file a claim, but the peace of mind was worth it, because I originally had visions of my apartment being broken into and my belongings stolen, and losing all my business records. And, my apartment complex requires renters' insurance, and I was able to get this for about $500 per year. Yes, that is a big bite from my budget, but in my own case, as it turns out, it was a great investment.

On the 8th of June, 2010 (coincidentally enough, on World Ocean Day), at about ten in the morning, my water heater in my apartment broke. Although I caught the leak and the apartment maintenance crew were able to stop it within a few minutes, in that time, most of my apartment had about an eighth of an inch of water standing in it. I called the claim number for my insurance, and within 45 minutes I had been given the number of a flood remediation company, and they were already at work. After vacuuming up the water, and ripping up the flooring to dry out the concrete slab and prevent mold, the company left with six area rugs to be cleaned, and left six fans and a dehumidifier running to dry out the sheetrock, concrete, and the contents of my apartment. I called a friend to ask to stay at her place for the night, since it was already seven o' clock in the evening by the time the flood remediation service had left.

The next morning, my insurance company called me, and had arranged for me to stay a hotel of my choosing until my apartment was repaired. Because I run a business from my home, they also arranged and paid for temporary office space so I could work and meet with my clients, and I was back in business that afternoon, having lost only a few hours' worth of work. A week later, I met with the adjusters to assess my claim for property damage and building improvements damage, and a few days later I had a check to cover my property losses and repairs. In addition, because the flooring had to be replaced, the insurance company sent a packing service to pack away everything that might be damaged while the floor was being replaced, and paid for a piano mover to come move and store my piano during the process. My agent's office was quite helpful in sending faxes and making copies for me, which saved me a lot of time and hassles.

When I had selected the flooring, the replacement flooring and installation was paid for, and the insurance company guaranteed the installation for life if I used one of their flooring companies (all the companies they suggested had an excellent reputation). Then the unpacking service returned and put away everything, exactly where it had been before the water heater broke, and then a maid service came to clean up everything and left me with a sparkling clean apartment. And finally, my piano was returned, and the insurance company paid for the piano technician of my choice to come and service my piano.

Although the entire claims process for the broken water heater took well over three months and a half, thanks to the insurance options I had selected, and the obvious care of my belongings and my apartment that I had taken before my water heater broke (the property and improvement claims adjusters noticed that my apartment was very clean), I was able to keep my business going, and eventually everything was just as I had had it before the flooding. I will certainly never complain about paying an insurance bill again! The entire claim turned out to be over $20,000--something I could never have afforded had I been forced to pay for it myself.

To maximize your claims, keep your apartment or house clean and in good repair, and take care of your property (polish your furniture, clean stains, etc.). The thing my property claims adjustor remarked on was that all my silver had been recently polished! If your claims adjusters are good, they will notice if you take care of your items and the amount allotted for repairs will be substantial. On the other hand, if it is clear that you do not take good care of your property, the amounts the claims adjusters give you for repairing or replacing your items will likely be much less.

When you are in the process of selecting a renters' insurance policy, the most important thing you can do is talk over your options thoroughly with an insurance agent. Find out what the different companies offer, and explain to the agent what you would need if you could not live in your house or apartment (such as an office, boarding for your pets, and so on). The more information your agent has, the more precise policy options they can offer you, and the better your result will be in the unlikely event you have a claim. There are many companies that offer renters' insurance: my experience with Allstate was wonderful, but there are many good policies available. Without a doubt, I could not have recovered my life and my work at home business without my renters' insurance policy from Allstate! So do not delay any longer, select a renters' insurance policy and sleep better at night.

In summary:

The good: did not contest claims; gave me the maximum value on items that were damaged; worked with me to find a solution for suitable space to continue my work; checked in occasionally to see how progress was going; gave me quite a bit of information on flooring companies approved by the insurance company. Allstate insurance company paid over $22,000 on this one claim.

The bad: claims adjustors and managers were often on vacation or training days when I needed information or help; the claims adjustor in charge of flooring was not helpful and I had to deal with her supervisor; the same claims adjustor tried to steer me to a particular flooring company (about which I had a very bad feeling) instead of allowing me to choose my own; did not have a suitable antique furniture restoration company or paper conservator to recommend.


It's now two years later. I recently had to submit a declaration page to my apartment complex proving I had renters' insurance. While I was printing it out, I noticed that I could not find a particular coverage on the page. I dredged up from memory the name of the claims manager and called her to ask how the claim had been paid and what the code was for that particular coverage. She then spent another fifteen minutes advising me on how certain items could be covered under my insurance policy, and recommended some changes to my coverage. Yes, those changes will cost an extra $80 or so per year, but to know that in case of an emergency, those items will be covered, it's well worth the additional cost.