CLEVELAND - Homeowners insurance premiums keep going up, and Consumer Reports said coverage is eroding. One reason: higher deductibles. So can you count on your insurance company if disaster strikes? Consumer Reports said maybe, maybe not.
A huge tree fell on Michael Matra's house last summer during a hurricane. A year later, he's still trying to get the insurance company to pay for damage.
"They didn't come through with paying for damage of the landscaping, the rock wall, the sidewalk. There was some internal stuff that they have not taken care of yet at this point," Matra said.
Discrepancies between the payment a homeowner expects and what an insurer actually covers are not unusual, according to Consumer Reports National Research Center. It surveyed more than 11,000 subscribers who've filed claims in the past few years.
"We found for large claims, when the damage was $25,000 or more , 19 percent of the people we polled did not agree with the amount their insurers wanted to pay," said Amanda Walker, of Consumer Reports.
Some of the lower-rated national insurers are big-name companies, including Farmers Insurance and Allstate.
"But we also found most people were very satisfied with their insurer," Walker said.
Among the top-rated home insurers in Consumer Reports' survey are Amica and U-S-A-A, a company that primarily serves families with some connection to the military.
"If you've got a large claim and you're not happy with the amount your insurer is offering to pay - try disputing it. People with a large claim that did so received $6,000 more on average than those who did not," Walker said.
Many companies have reduced their coverage, especially when it comes to hurricane damage.
Insurance premiums went up anywhere from five to 10 percent in recent years, according to industry experts. Consumer Reports said you can expect to see rates jump again this year by as much as 12 percent.
Two ways to cut your costs - get your home and car insurance with the same company. Also consider increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000.
When disputing an insurance claim request a meeting to review your estimate line-by-line, ask to see specific contract language if you're told your policy does not cover the damage, and as a last resort consider a public adjuster.
Tonight at 11, NewsChannel5's Consumer Advocate Jenn Strathman looks into why so many Northeast Ohio homeowners are upset their insurance claims are not being paid for storms last summer. We dug through hundreds of state documents and spoke with dozens of homeowners to show you the steps you need to take to make sure your insurer pays the policy the next time disaster strikes your home.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Consumer Reports tested more than 100 gas grills costing from less than $200 to more than $2,000.
A new product called FreshPaper claims to keep produce fresh for two to four times longer.
It's not a store you would typically consider when going wedding gown shopping, but Target is jumping into the ring.