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Renter's insurance

Renter's insurance protects a renter's belongings from loss or damage and also covers liability in certain circumstances. Landlords can require you to carry it.

Jeremiah N Johns | Oct 14, 2018

What to do After a Property Loss?

Check Your Insurance If you have insurance on your home or business, you may be covered for your property loss. Review the declarations page and call your agent if you have any questions. You need to figure out the contact information for your insurance company to make a claim. Document Your Damage Immediately after the loss, take pictures and videos of the damage. You should also begin creating a list of personal property that was damaged or destroyed. Be as thorough as possible. Make Your Claim Notify your insurance company of the damage to your property and ask it to begin adjusting your claim. When speaking with the insurance company, be sure to inform it of all the damage. Within a few days, the insurance company should send an adjuster out to inspect. Be present for the inspection. Make sure the adjuster inspects all of the damage and that he or she knows all damage you are claiming. If the adjuster does not conduct a thorough inspection, inform the insurance company in writing. Do Not Let Random Vendors Perform Work on Your Home Following a loss, insurance companies will often send their preferred vendor to your property to perform a variety of services such as smoke mitigaiton, water mitigation, personal property cleaning, and demolition. These vendors likely have longstanding relationships with the insurance company. The insurance company sends these vendors to your home or business with the intent of controlling the claim. Often times, the insurance company pays the vendor directly from your insurance proceeds and then relies on the vendor to report that the damage is limited. Because these vendors get their business directly from the insurance companies, they will not fight to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to under your insurance policy. Sometimes vendors will claim that you are required to accept their services. This is likely untrue. Have the insurance adjuster specificy in writing if you must accept the vendor's services and point out the exact provision in your insurance policy allowing your insurer to select who gets to perform work on your property. Review the Estimate The insurance company should issue you payment for your loss within 30 days. Ask to see a copy of the adjuster's estimate and report so that you know if all damage is being accounted for in the insurance company's estimate. In addition, it is important to think more broadly about the damage to your home or business. In cases of fire or water damage, the damage can be much more extensive than you think. It is often difficult to mitigate and repair smoke damage. Likewise, water damage can often times necessitate gutting large sections of your home or treating for mold. If you have any quest Be Critical From my experience, insurance companies tend to undervalue claims. Be critical of the payment made to you and ask questions if you are unsure if your payment is fair. If the insurance company is not covering part of your loss, ask for a written explanation why. Often times contractors will prepare their repair estimate based on the insurance money you have received. Ask your contractor for an honest assessment of what it will cost to fully repair the property to its pre-loss condition. If your contractor thinks your payment is low, you probably have not been paid what is owed. Retain an Attorney If you feel you are being underpaid or not being treated fairly by your insurance company, speak with an attorney who specializes in property casualty and bad faith litigation. Hiring an attorney will often make the insurance company take your claim more seriously. An experienced attorney can also review your claim to ensure that you are receiving adequate compensation. In cases where the insurance company has failed to properly adjust, investigate, or settle your case, an attorney may bring a bad faith claim on your behalf. Establishing bad faith can result in an award of double or triple damages, in addition to attorney's fees and other consequential damages.

David Rubenstein | Oct 21, 2014

Why you should have a written telecommuting policy

Will the employee use company equipment at home? If the employee will be using company equipment (computers, smartphones, etc.), what happens if the equipment is lost, stolen or damaged? Is the employee responsible for the loss? If so, the employee should be asked to sign an acknowledgement to this effect, perhaps authorizing payroll deductions for the replacement cost. Is the employee permitted to use a company computer or phone for personal matters? If not, the employee should acknowledge this in writing. If the employee is using his or her own equipment, and will have access to sensitive data, you'll need to consider what sorts of safeguards are necessary to protect against the data being compromised. For instance, you might require employees to use a secure connection or a virtual private network, and to change passwords frequently. If the employee will have sensitive documents at home, you might insist they be kept in a locked file cabinet. If the employee gets hurt at home, does workers' comp apply? As an employer, you're legally responsible for providing a safe working environment, even if the worker is at home. You might be amazed to learn that telecommuters have successfully applied for workers' compensation benefits where they slipped on work documents and injured themselves, where they developed a blood clot while working, where they tripped over the family dog and hurt themselves, and even where they were assaulted by a third party at home. Although there might not be much you can do to prevent an assault by a neighbor, you might want to protect yourself by requiring employees to designate a specific area at home to serve as an office, requiring lunch and rest breaks at designated times, or even performing a site check of the home office to look for potential hazards. How will the employee's hours be tracked? The federal overtime law requires businesses to pay employees for all hours worked, and to keep accurate information regarding hours worked even if the employee is at home and there's no supervisor present to monitor and record hours. If the employee is non-exempt, it would be a good idea to have the employee sign a document saying how many hours will be worked per week and how they will be tracked, and acknowledging that the employee will not work extra hours without permission. Are there risks of a discrimination lawsuit? Discrimination lawsuits can arise if a company is more willing to allow certain groups of employees (such as mothers) to telecommute than others, or allows telecommuting only for certain categories of jobs that are disproportionately filled by one group. A company can also get sued if it discriminates against telecommuters as to wages or benefits. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act says that businesses have a duty to accommodate disabled workers, and one form of accommodation can be allowing them to work from home. If a company doesn't want a particular job done from home, the result is sometimes a lengthy legal dispute about whether a disabled worker has a "right" to telecommute. There's no foolproof way to prevent this, but if you have a written policy in place that clearly states which categories of jobs are open for telecommuting and the criteria for eligibility, it can help you show that a certain job is not available for working from home. Does your liability insurance cover the employee? What if a courier is delivering a work-related package and slips on the employee's front step, or is bitten by the employee's dog? You'll want to make sure your liability insurance covers incidents related to working at home. You might also want to require the employee to maintain a homeowner's or renter's insurance policy. What if the employee is in another state? Suppose an employee works remotely from another state, or has a home nearby but across a state border? In many cases, the employment and tax laws of that other state will apply to the employee. This could create extensive paperwork for the business, and you'll want to be aware of that before you approve a telecommuting arrangement. You might want to prohibit telecommuting across state lines. Is a permit required? Some cities and towns require a permit for a home-based business, and this includes a telecommuter. Some prohibit home-based businesses altogether. You might want to make clear who will be responsible for obtaining a permit and paying any related fees.