Hopefully there will never be a need to file a home owner’s insurance claim, but sometimes disaster strikes and having a policy in place can be a lifeline from the storm. Figuring out how to file a claim though can be confusing but it is important to do it accurately in order to get paid promptly. It is also crucial so that homeowners can return to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible. Make copies of any documents, take pictures, and keep track of any home insurance representatives dealing with the claim for your records.
The Notification Process
The first step in getting a claim filed is to contact the insurance agent or the insurance company, in order to inform them of the problem. They will be able to assess the policy and determine what steps need to be taken to file the claim successfully. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so be sure to document all the damage with pictures or video and keep these with any other documentation. Make sure any paperwork follows the procedures outlined within the homeowner’s insurance policy.
When it comes to fixing repairs, it is important to get started right away; homeowners should not wait to get started. Any preventable damage that happens after the initial incident will probably not be covered by the insurance company. Homeowners should feel free to pull a tarp over a leaky roof or board up a broken window, and they should keep the receipts from any repairs; they should be reimbursed also as long as the repairs are reasonable and necessary. For example, if granite counters replace Formica ones, the claim will probably be denied unless there was an amazing sale on granite that week and the price was comparable.
Homeowners should go through the house and write notes on everything that is missing or damaged; if there are records of the receipts, include those as well. If there is replacement cost coverage on the home insurance policy, the items will be replaced regardless of any depreciation. It is wise to keep a video record or a list of items with any receipts in a fireproof box or at an off-site location when activating a home insurance policy prior to any problems. This will make it easier to remember everything that needs to be replaced or repaired.
The Waiting Game
If there has been a major disaster in the area, it may take insurance companies a little while to process claims and assess damage, so be patient. The more severe the damage, the higher the homeowner will be in their priorities. It is important to follow up on the claim and make sure that everything is still being processed accordingly. If the insurance company does not handle the claim in a timely fashion or if they are balking on paying for something that is indisputably a part of the damage and covered by the home insurance, the state insurance commissioner can help.
It is also vital to read through the homeowners insurance policy before filing a claim, in order to determine what is covered and what is not. Generally, if the home is uninhabitable, reasonable living expenses for alternative accommodations are included. While fires, floods, or storms can wreak incredible havoc on a home, an insurance company’s job is to help. Be responsible about filing a claim because if too many claims are made within a short period of time, a home insurance policy may be canceled.