Renters insurance can be valuable protection for renters to have. It's supposed to cover your losses if someone breaks in and steals your stuff, but beware of one particular policy exclusion.
Angela White recently downsized into a small Phoenix rental house. Last month she came home, stuck her key in the lock, and walked into a nightmare.
"I looked straight ahead and noticed that my TV was gone," White said.
Also gone were the computers on her tables and thousands of dollars worth of other electronics. The responding Phoenix police officer wrote in his report that he saw "no signs of forced entry" and "the method of entry is unknown." White says that was related to the front door but there was an issue with the entry from the garage to the house.
"The door was broken all around the lock where someone tried to pry," White said.
White wasn't concerned how the crook got in. She has a renters insurance policy with American Modern Insurance Group. But she says it only took AMIG 15 minutes with her on the phone to make a bad day worse.
"She said, 'Angela, I'm sorry but I'm going to deny your claim because there was no forced entry. You don't know how they got in,'" White said.
There was no investigation, no adjuster visit to inspect the home - just a quick, flat denial. White says American Modern Insurance Group is using fine print in her policy to renege on its promise to protect her. She's 100 percent sure there are plenty of ways a burglar can get into a house without forced entry.
"If you had a fireplace, they can come in your chimney, so if they drop through your chimney like they're Santa Claus or something, that's it, you don't get paid," White said.
CBS 5 News spoke with AMIG. The company says this was all a misunderstanding. They say they did not deny White's claim on the phone but were working on it at the time CBS 5 News contacted them. White disputes that claim, saying she was never issued a claim number. After CBS 5 News contacted AMIG, the company sent an adjuster to White's home and ended up paying White more than $13,000 on her claim. CBS 5 News wants to thank American Modern Insurance Group for working to quickly to resolve this matter.
But there is a very important lesson to be drawn from this case. The Arizona Dept. of Insurance says it is not illegal for companies to deny claims due to a lack of "forced entry." So make sure you ask any insurer about this issue before signing up for a policy.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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