What is an insurance claim and how do I file one?

What is an insurance claim?

We discussed in a recent article that no one expects disasters, emergencies or catastrophes. However, if the time comes that your home or possessions are damaged, destroyed, or stolen, it’s comforting to know that your insurance company is ready to help you. Simply put, an insurance claim is when you submit paperwork to your insurance company to help reimburse you for losses after a disaster occurs.

How do I submit an insurance claim?

Here are the 8 steps to filing a claim. We will discuss each one in detail later.

  1. Decide whether it is even worth filing a claim or not.
  2. Have I documented everything?
  3. Have I filled out the paperwork correctly and completely?
  4. Send the paperwork in immediately!
  5. Temporary repairs.
  6. Hello Mr. Inspector.
  7. Get at least 2 estimates.
  8. Be prepared to negotiate if necessary.

Decide whether it is even worth filing a claim or not

Think before you file. Remember that many small claims made within a few years can result in the insurance company raising your rates or, even worse, terminating your policy. The purpose of insurance is to protect you from catastrophic repairs and replacement. So ask yourself, “is it better for me to pay this myself instead of getting the insurance company involved?” You want to keep your insurance for when you really need it, don’t you?

Have I documented everything?

After a disaster is not the time to start taking an inventory of your belongings and trying to come up with proof of ownership and value. Talk about adding a headache on top of a a headache! Wise clients take the time to do a home inventory beforehand. This way all of their belongings have been cataloged, photographed and they have the copies of the receipts ready ahead of time. Do yourself a favor and do this now BEFORE you have an emergency. Otherwise, you will have to try to remember what you had from memory!

Next, go around the home and take pictures and video of the damage that you experienced. Make a list of the items stolen or damaged.

Have I filled out the paperwork correctly and completely?

There is nothing worse than omitting something on a form only to have it kicked back to you and your reimbursement check delayed weeks or months. So dot every “I” and cross every “T.”

Send the paperwork in immediately!

Time is of the essence here. The longer you wait, the more you will forget and the longer it will take to get your check. This will also allow time for you to get any additional paperwork or proof your agent will require from you.

PRO TIP: Keep a record or journal of every correspondence you have with your insurance contact. Record time, place, names, and what was discussed. Keep these in the same book or app so it can be referenced quickly later on.

Make any temporary repairs to keep your home safe

Remember to keep your home dry and safe. Use tarps and plywood to keep the damage from getting worse. Keep a running list of all expenses that come up for your records. Be sure to make a record of all of the things you throw away, so you can add them to your claim.

Hello Mr. Inspector

Your claims inspector will be visiting your home to examine your claim. He will review the damage as well as your losses on your claim. In turn, he will explain to you what is covered by your insurance policy and what isn’t. Remember to keep a journal of all of your conversations with him, so you can have them for reference later on.

Get at least 2 estimates

Just as you would get a few estimates if you were putting in a new kitchen, it only makes sense to get a few estimates from local contractors on the repairs of your home. First, it will help you to remain within the insurance company’s budget. Second, it’s your home, so you need to feel good about the contractor you will be working with over the next few months. Doesn’t it make sense that you should feel comfortable with them before hiring?

Put on your negotiator hat

What happens when your insurance company makes an offer to settle for claims that you are not comfortable with? What can you do when it isn’t enough to cover the contractors bills to rebuild your home like new?

Remember you have options

  • Try to resolve the concern with the insurance company first. Show them all of the estimates you have to prove your case.
  • Contact a licensed public adjuster in your area. A public adjuster will work hard to negotiate for you with your insurance company and will be there every step of the way while your home is rebuilt. Talk to them about your situation. Ask them for ideas regarding your situation. Remember to ask and check for references.

We hope you have found these 8 steps to making a large claim on your home insurance policy. Your InsuranceHub representative is standing buy to help you answer all of your questions about making claims right now.

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