Homeowners Insurance Claim Check 101

23 Jun

If your home has recently experienced a fire, flood or burglary, you will want to file a claim with your homeowners insurance company. Once your insurer has approved your claim, you will be sent a claim check (minus your deductible) to repair the damage. Claim checks come in a variety of different ways, it is possible you will receive more than one check for a claim, the check may also be sent to other people (your mortgage lender, contractor or other) it all depends on the particulars of your claims and your insurance company.

We thought it might be helpful to put together a brief overview of homeowners insurance claim checks. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about a claim check.

How to file a homeowners insurance claim

Contact Insurer: The first step is to contact your insurer to report your home has been damaged and start the claim process. While it can vary by insurer, in most cases you will need to provide:

  • Your name
  • Contact information
  • Date of the loss
  • Details of the loss
  • Details of any injuries

Your insurance company will ask you to document the damage if it is safe to do so and may also schedule a time for a claims adjuster to inspect the damage. This is why it is very important to always have a completed home inventory checklist updated and safely saved on a computer, iPhone or app. Home insurance companies may also ask for make, model, serial numbers and proof of photos for ownership.

Best Home Inventory Apps on the Market

If possible, make temporary repairs 

Your insurer will want you to make temporary repairs if they can be done safely, this will help prevent further damage from happening. If you must purchase supplies such as tarps, wood etc. to make the repairs be sure to keep the receipts as your insurer may reimburse you. 

Document the damage and submit it   

As long as it is safe to do so you should document all of the damage to your home. Take photos and video of the damaged areas from multiple angles to submit to your insurance company. In most cases you can simply email them to your agent or adjuster, but your insurance company should advise you where to send them.

Meet with claims adjuster

Depending on the severity of the damage and your insurance company, a claims adjuster may be sent out to inspect the damage. They may require you to sign a “proof of loss” form which is a formal statement about your loss. The claim adjuster’s assessment will have an impact on your insurer’s decision on your claim. 

Receive your check 

If your insurer approves your claim, you will receive a check or payment via direct deposit. If it is a major claim that requires lots of rebuilding your payment may be sent out in installments as the work is completed. In other cases, your insurer may send out an advance check against the final settlement amount to give you some funds while waiting for the claim to be completed. It is also possible that you will receive separate checks for the structure of your home and your personal possessions.

How long does it usually take to get an insurance claim check?

It can vary dramatically by insurance company as well as what is involved in your claim. A simple claim can result in a check being issued on the spot while a more complicated claim requiring rebuilding your home can take much longer. Your adjuster should be able to give you an idea of how long it will take when the review the damage.

It is very possible that you will be issued more than one check. The first one may be based on an estimate and will subtract your deductible amount while an additional check may be issued after the repair job is completed. 

Can you simply cash an insurance claim check?

It depends on who the check is made out to, if it is made out to you alone, you can absolutely cash it. However, if you have a mortgage on your home in most cases the check will be made out to both you and the mortgage lender which means they must sign off before the check can be cashed. This is to ensure that you have the repairs to the house made and not just simply cash the check and pocket the cash. Your mortgage lender will want to ensure that their investment in your home is protected by making sure it is properly repaired. 

Can a mortgage lender keep the claim check?

With a major claim it is possible that your mortgage lender will put the check in an escrow account and pay the contractor as the work is completed. You will have to work with your mortgage lender and your contractor to have funds released and in many cases your lender may inspect the home before final payment is issued. 

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