Ask an Agent: 5 Questions You're Afraid to Ask Your Insurer

Nervous about letting slip information that could cause trouble with your insurer?
No problem, we asked the tough questions for you.

Ever have a burning question for your insurance company that you didn’t want to ask because you were too afraid? You may have thought, “What if I ask this question and my premium goes up? Or what if they drop my policy altogether?”
If you’ve ever had those fears, today is your lucky day.
We know the implications of approaching certain topics with your insurer, so we posed five troublesome insurance questions to Mike Pesackis — a licensed agent since 2006. Here are his insights.

I’m getting my kids a trampoline for Christmas. If I don’t tell my insurer, my home insurance premium won’t go up, right?

Correct — but if there is a claim associated with that trampoline, you might not be covered, either.
Trampolines are responsible for many injury claims every year. As a result, the presence of a trampoline is an underwriting concern.
Typically, owning a trampoline does not result in a rate increase. Some carriers will require protective netting, while others will not insure a home with a trampoline at all. This is definitely a case where disclosing to your carrier up front is a much better strategy than possibly being denied a claim.

I was in a car accident, but there was no damage to either vehicle. Should I tell my insurance provider?

This is a sticky one. If it were me, I would not tell my insurance agent because this would open up a can of worms unnecessarily.
However, if the police showed up on the scene and filed a report, your insurance carrier will definitely find out eventually. In that case, it would be in your best interest to have your carrier find out directly from you.

I adopted a dog from a local shelter. Should I tell my insurer?

Absolutely! Regardless of the breed, having a dog in your house increases risk, which means your carrier needs to know.
Many home insurance carriers cover dog bite liability; however, a claim would only be covered if your carrier actually knows you own the dog. Depending on the breed of your dog or whether the dog has a bite history, the insurance company could raise your premium, decline to renew your policy or exclude coverage for the dog altogether.
The best thing to do is call your provider ahead of time, reveal your plans and let the carrier help you through the situation. Generally, carriers only consider a few breeds — including pit bulls, Dobermans, and Akitas — automatic disqualifiers. Often, though, getting a dog is a non-event, especially if you’re getting a typically non-aggressive breed such as a Lab, beagle or poodle.

Will my auto insurance premiums go up if I file a claim for a broken windshield?

This depends on your carrier and how your policy is written. Many carriers will offer “full glass” coverage on comprehensive claims — meaning that a broken windshield would be replaced without you paying a deductible, and with no impact to your premium.
If you do not have full glass on your comprehensive coverage, your premium might go up slightly, but not nearly as much as it would for an accident. Carriers are typically pretty lenient when it comes to comprehensive claims (such as a broken windshield) because these types of issues do not have anything to do with your abilities as a driver.

I run a business out of my home. Is my home business covered under my home insurance policy?

Not typically. Home insurance carriers shy away from businesses in homes because with increased foot traffic comes increased risk of liability claims (such as a slip/fall). In some cases, your business-related equipment or inventory might not even be covered by your home insurance policy.
Your best bet would be to call your carrier to discuss your business. Depending on the scope and nature of your business, the carrier might require you to get a professional liability policy or small business insurance policy to further mitigate risk.

By Samantha Alexander