How to handle a homeowners insurance claim

07 Apr
Filing a homeowners insurance claim

Filing a homeowners insurance claim can be a bit confusing and time consuming but it’s necessary to make sure your claim is paid in full.

Nobody wants to make a claim on their homeowner insurance, but eventually the day will come that you have to give your insurer a call and file a claim. Having an understanding of the process will make it easier to get your claimed filed, processed and paid in a timely manner.

Depending on what type of claim you are making, and the size of your claim, there is a good chance that you need to get estimates for repairs, submit photos and documentation of the damage, provide receipt copies and have an inspection done when the repairs are complete. The process can be a bit confusing and time consuming but it’s necessary to make sure your claim is paid in full.

Here is a quick rundown of what to expect from the homeowners insurance claim process:

Assess the Damage

Before you call your insurer, assess the damage to your home and property. If the damage will result in a low cost claim or the cost of the damage is less than your deductible, you are best paying for the damage out of pocket.

A claim will absolutely raise the cost of your homeowners insurance so it is best to be selective when it comes to filing claims. If the damage is minimal, get an estimate before contacting your insurer. Paying for the damage yourself will keep your insurance rates from rising.

On the other hand, if the damage is extensive, do not hesitate to call your insurance to file a claim. Major damage is what insurance is for, and while your rates may go up after the claim, covering major damage out of pocket is usually not possible.

Document the Damage

After you have notified your insurer of the damage, document it. This can help the claim go quicker and ensure that all of the damages are paid.

Photos: Take picture of the damage as soon as you can. Take photos and video if possible of all of the damage from as many angles as possible.

Prevent Further Damage: If your home is severely damaged, and open to the elements or the possibility of further damage exists, do what you can to prevent further damage but notify your insurer before you take any steps. An example would be, putting a tarp over a damaged roof to prevent rain from coming in through the hole.

Never attempt temporary repairs on structures that do not seem safe or stable and always contact your insurer first before making repairs.

Document Your Costs: Estimate the costs to repair your home. Be sure to include the costs of labor and materials as well as the value of all of your lost possessions. Include the cost of alternative living arrangements if your home is unlivable.

What to Expect from the Process

The first thing you should expect is for a claims adjuster to come to your home and inspect the damage as well as review your policy with you to determine what damage is covered by your policy.

They will ask about how the damage occurred as well as what condition the damaged area of the home was in prior to the accident that caused the damage.

You will be working closely with this person throughout the claims process so make sure you have their contact information. Provide them with all of the documentation you have collected, including photos, videos and estimates.

After the initial inspection the adjuster will pull data on similar claims, review estimates and your policy to determine the value of your claim. They will then make a settlement offer to you, which you can accept, or reject. If you plan on rejecting the offer be sure to have documentation to back up your number.

Eventually, after some back and forth the adjuster will make a final offer and if you are still unhappy with the figure it is possible to appeal the decision, conditions vary by policy so review your policy to determine your options.

Remember that you will be responsible for the policy deductible when filing a claim so have that money handy before starting repairs.

Tips for the Claim Process

As you go through the claims process these tips will help keep things on track.

  • Stay on Track: Pay close attention to all deadlines and fill out all of the required forms. Stay in touch with your insurance company and document all of the conversations you have with adjusters and anyone else involved in the claims process. Keep track of dates, names, titles of the person you talk to as well as claim numbers.
  • Be Detailed: When you are describing the damage and what caused it, be detailed and stick to the facts. Do not offer your personal opinion, simply describe what happened and describe the damage in detail.
  • Attend All Inspections: When an adjuster comes out to inspect the damage, you should be there in person to both answer questions about the damage and ask questions about what to expect from the process. Again, be concise and thorough when describing what happened.
  • Be sure that the adjuster documents all damage. If you are unable to be there for the inspection, ask for a copy of the claim report as soon as possible and check it for errors or omissions.
  • Don’t Settle: Never settle for less than the amount you feel you are honestly owed. Most insurance adjuster will offer a settlement, but you do not have to accept it. Insurance payout amounts are negotiable and if you feel the offer is too low, challenge it and offer documentation to back up your position.
  • Read Your Policy: Carefully examine your policy so you are aware of what should be covered. The majority of homeowner policies will cover the cost of alterative living arrangements but you should verify that by reading your policy.
  • Be diligent: Do not let your claim get lost or delayed. Insurance adjusters usually handle numerous cases simultaneously so make sure that your claim is getting the attention it deserves. The longer the settlement process takes, the longer you will be out of your house. Contact your adjuster often to verify your claim is moving through the process.
  • It’s Business: Remember, an insurance claim is a business transaction. Even if your agent or adjuster is a long time family friend, you need to stay on top of the claim and make sure you are getting paid for all of the damage that you deserve. On the flipside of that coin, always be honest with an insurance claim, lies can result in a denied claim or even legal charges of fraud.

How We Can Help

We know that filing a claim can be stressful so we want to help. Our Home Insurance Companies page will help you find the contact information you need to start a claim over the phone or online. We have listed out all of our insurance partners combined with their contact information for claims as well as links to pay online.

If you decide that it is time to switch insurers after filing a claim we can help you find a great new policy. Simply fill out our quick and easy quoting application online and we will shop the best rates and coverages available to you.

Helpful, related articles

Tags: , , , , ,