Filing a homeowner’s claim is never a fun experience. It usually means that you have suffered a substantial loss, it could be hail damage, and you may have even had the unfortunate experience of being a victim of a burglary. Sometimes even the unthinkable happens, and you could suffer a fire loss. It is a stressful, emotional time for any homeowner, but with these helpful hints hopefully, it will be less confusing, trying and help you return to normalcy as soon possible.
Your insurance company wants you to get back to your routine as much as you do. Following these helpful hints will help you navigate the claim process a little easier. However, if you are not sure what to do, feel free to contact us at any time, and one of our helpful agents will guide you along the way.
The Process of Filing a Claim on Your Homeowners Insurance
First of all, it is essential that you read your insurance policyto understand exactly what your responsibilities are. If you aren’t clear on the policy language then discuss it with your agent. The following are some helpful steps to help you file a successful claim.
Report any crime to the police. If your home has been part of a burglary or vandalism, report it to the police as soon as possible. Obtain a police report and the names of all officers that you speak with as you may need to provide all the aspects of the event to your insurer.
Before calling the insurance company, it may be beneficial to first contact your agent. They may be able to cut down on some confusion on the claim process or even prevent filing an unnecessary claim.
Ask them the following questions:
- Do I have coverage? If you do not have coverage, you do not want a claim showing up on your loss history.
- How many days do I have to turn in a claim? Insurance companies want losses filed within a timely manner to begin repairs and prevent further loss.
- Will the cost my claim be more than my deductible? If the loss is less than your deductible, you do not need to go through the claim process.
- How long will the claim process take? If you have to stay somewhere else, it is important to know how long a company takes to process their claims.
- Do I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage? Insurance companies will let you pick whom you want to work on repairing your home; they also like to see the estimate prior to the repair process starting. This helps avoid any unnecessary charges. The purpose of insurance is to make you whole again, not to upgrade.
What to Expect after the Claim has been Filed
Fill out claim forms as soon as you can. If you decide that you will be making a claim the insurance company will send you the necessary claim forms. By law, insurance companies must get these out to you within a specified period. Be sure to return the correctly filled out forms quickly to avoid any processing delays.
Once the claim has been established, the insurance company will typically send an adjuster out to inspect your property. An adjuster represents the insurance company; their role is to inspect property damage to decide how much the insurance company should compensate for the loss. The insurance adjuster will ask a few questions regarding the damage and inspect the property.
You should always be prepared to show the adjuster any structural damage, as well as a list of damaged items ready to make the best use of the time.
It is part of the insurance contract for you to make temporary repairs. Take photos or video of the damage, and then take logical steps to protect your property from any further damage. Try not to throw out damaged items until after the adjuster visit. Hold on to receipts for what you spend; it is possible that you may be able to submit them for reimbursement later.
You should also make a list of lost or damaged articles. You are going to need to verify your loss. It’s best to make a list of destroyed or damaged items, plus make a copy of the list for your adjuster. If you still have the original purchase receipts for the damaged items are sure to give copies of the receipts to the adjuster. Maintaining a home inventory will speed this part of the claims process, and check out this list of Forbes top rated inventory apps.
If you have to stay in temporary housing, be sure to keep your receipts. If the damage to your home is so significant like a partial fire or severe roof damage that you need to find other living arrangements during the repair process, keep receipts and records of all extra expenses. Most homeowner’s insurance policies will cover additional living expenses in such cases, but you will need to prove the extra cost.
In the End
Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions. If you have any concerns about the claim filing laws in your state, give us a call or contact your state department of insurance.
Once you and your insurance company agree on the terms of settling the claim, state laws require that you be sent payment promptly.