Every homeowner hopes they don’t need to use their insurance. Did you know that property damage, including theft, counts for 98% of homeowners insurance claims?
Whatever the reason is that you’re filing, it’s certainly not an ideal situation. But filing an insurance claim shouldn’t add to your stress.
Keep reading for homeowners insurance claim tips and learn the best way to file a property insurance claim!
1. Decide Whether You Should Really Be Filing the Claim
Before going forward with filing your claim, the first step should be to ask if you really need to file a claim for your situation. This is because some smaller home issues will be considered incidentals by insurance companies.
This could end up raising your premiums, but having the same deductible as if you did a larger home replacement. Consider the cost of repairs. If it’s less than your deductible, then it could be best to pay out of pocket.
2. Review Your Policy
It’s important to know your policy and review it, especially if you’ve recently switched insurance companies. To better understand if certain incidents are covered by your plan, you can look at your declarations page.
This will also help you know what the maximum value is that you can get for your claim and if it’s covered or worth filing.
Consider if the amount you could get is worth the potential to increase your premiums. Also, know whether or not you want to file before asking the adjuster to come to your home. The adjuster can choose to count it as a claim.
3. Call Your Insurance Company
If you are filing a claim, you should call your insurance company as soon as possible after the incident. Give the insurer all the information you have, and answer all questions.
The insurance company will send you to the claims department, who will assign you a claim number. You’ll also have an insurance adjuster who will be assigned to the case and will be the person determining the estimated costs and damage.
Be sure to write down the claims number and keep track of all important information. The adjuster’s job is to work for the insurance company to decide how much will be paid to you for the cost of damages.
4. Call the Police If Needed
Certain claims might require police participation, according to your insurance company. File a police report if needed and give this to the adjuster. This can help to support your claim.
This may be required for claims like theft or vandalism. You may want to contact the police regardless if you’re worried about it happening again.
5. Document Everything
You will need all the proof you can get to support your insurance claim. So use photographs and other documents to help you. This is especially important if your home has been damaged or if theft has taken place. Make sure you are taking well-lit photos from different angles.
Make a list of everything stolen or damaged, and take note of the times and dates of anything that occurred. By giving this information to the insurance company, you can help speed up the process.
6. Get Repair Estimates
Seek out a trusted contractor when you’re ready to start the repair process. They should be able to give you an estimate for the cost of repairs, which you can then give to the insurance adjuster.
If you need to make emergency repairs quickly, keep all your receipts. So if your home experienced a lot of damage from a storm and you need to fix your roof quickly, keep documents of all expenses.
This also includes expenses from needing to relocate. If your home experienced enough damage that you need to stay at a hotel, keep all the receipts to be reimbursed later.
7. Contact Your Mortgage Lender
Often for homeowners, your mortgage lender will need to be a part of the claims process. This is the case if you do not own your home in full. It’s possible that they will hold the insurance settlement and release it in installments.
This happens when your mortgage lender wants to ensure that the money is being used for repairs. Talk to your lender and ask how insurance claims are typically handled.
8. Be Prepared for the Adjuster Inspection
Once you get an estimate from the contractor, you will need to deliver it to your insurance adjuster. This is essentially how much you’re asking the insurance company to cover.
When the adjuster comes to your home for an inspection, you should be present. Make sure that they aren’t missing any details and that they see everything that needs repairs or replacements.
Be cautious about what is said and remember that they are working on behalf of the insurance company. Answer all their questions, but don’t give more information than is needed. It’s also best to not admit fault if it can be avoided.
9. Keep Track of All Time and Money
The claims process can sometimes be lengthy so it’s important to keep track of all time and money you’ve spent preparing for the claim. You might be able to negotiate the costs covered for things like living expenses while filing the claim.
You also may need to seek professional help, like a lawyer, to best understand how to advocate for yourself.
10. Advocate for Yourself in Getting the Best Settlement
Once you receive the amount the insurance company wants to settle with, be sure it’s enough and fair. Once the claim is closed and the settlement is given, you won’t be able to contest it.
If you feel like the homeowners insurance claim is not in your best interest, or if you feel like their offer is too low, spend time negotiating. Be patient and firm while discussing it because urgency can result in less money than you deserve.
Follow These Homeowners Insurance Claim Tips to Make the Process Easier
By following the homeowners insurance claim tips above, you’ll learn how to make the process easier and a bit less stressful.
No one wants to be in the position of needing to file an insurance claim for things like theft or property damage. But it’s important to be patient, document everything, and advocate for what you deserve.
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