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This guide will walk you through the homeowner’s insurance claim process, explaining everything you need to file a claim, what to expect from the process, and how long you should expect to wait before you’re paid. We will also tell you when to file, how to document your claim and what information the insurance company will be looking for. Finally, we’ll cover mistakes to avoid during the process and what to do about things like a damaged roof that needs immediate repair.
How To File Homeowners Insurance Claim
After a fire, flood, theft, or other unfortunate event at home, you may not think of calling your homeowners insurance company first. However, it is important to do this as soon as possible, both for security reasons and to start the claim process. In this section, we’ll walk you through the claim process, which includes the following steps:
Taking A Look At A Common Proof Of Loss Form
1. If necessary, file a police report. If it’s a crime like theft or vandalism, file a police report before making any other calls. Be sure to write down the names of all police department employees you speak with or who come to inspect your property.
2. Notify Your Insurance Company Your next call should be your homeowner’s insurance company or insurance agent. Most homeowner policies require that the insurance company be notified immediately after any damage, theft or injury that could result in a claim. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to call right away, the sooner you do, the sooner the recovery process can begin. Reporting requirements may vary by insurer and circumstance, but your policy and additional documentation will tell you what to do. Some companies also allow you to file a claim online.
3. Make any emergency repairs Then make reasonable emergency repairs that can prevent further damage without putting yourself at risk. Most homeowner’s insurance policies allow this, but some require it. Before starting any work, be sure to keep copies of any reimbursement receipts and take detailed photos of the damage.
4. Document the claim Document all damage, stolen items and everything else that will be the basis for the claim. Take lots of photos or videos detailing the damage, going room by room if necessary. This is especially important if immediate repairs are needed to make the building safe and habitable. Make a list of the items damaged, stolen or destroyed, along with their approximate value. This will be much faster if you do a detailed home inventory of your possessions in advance. The insurance company will arrange an appointment for an appraiser who will interview you and assess the damage and determine how much compensation you can expect. Be sure to accompany the appraiser during the inspection and point out any structural damage or problem areas.
Common Questions After Filing A Homeowners Insurance Claim
For more information on homeowners insurance claims, see How Does Homeowners Insurance Work? and what does homeowners insurance cover?
Not all homeowner’s insurance claims need to be reported to local authorities. A leaking roof or wind damage, for example, is usually not a good reason to contact the police. But if there is criminal activity, such as vandalism or burglary, or if there is a fire, you need to get the authorities involved as soon as possible. The same applies if someone is injured on your property. Share all relevant details of the incident with the authorities and keep copies of their reports. You will need them when you submit your claim.
You should not call 911 unless your house is on fire, you suspect a burglar is in your home, someone is seriously injured, or there is some other serious danger. Most police departments prefer that non-emergency calls go to their dedicated non-emergency line. The subsequent discovery of vandalism or theft is usually not an emergency.
Some communities allow and even encourage citizens to report criminal activity online and file their own police reports. After you enter some information about yourself, your location and the incident, your case will be assigned a number and you can print a copy of the report. An officer will accompany you if necessary.
Insurance Claim Faqs: Everything You Need To Know About Filing A Claim
If an officer comes to your home, provide as many details as possible about the incident, including an explanation of any damage to your home and a note of damaged or missing property. Answer all the officer’s questions and take a close look at the area yourself to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Most homeowners insurance policies require you to notify your insurance company immediately after a storm, theft, fire, injury or any other incident that could result in a claim, whether or not you intend to make a claim. Your policy will determine what is required and where to start.
In addition to calling your insurance company or insurance agent directly, some insurance companies allow you to contact them online or through an app. Unless you’re making a small claim, it’s probably best to speak directly with an agent or company representative.
Before you call, read your policy to get an idea of what is and isn’t covered, what exclusions and limitations are included, and what additional coverages you may have that you may have forgotten about. If it’s been a while since you bought your policy, now would be a good time to refresh it. Make a list of questions as you review the policy.
Mobile Home Insurance Claims: Easily File Today
If the damage is minor and the repairs are likely to cost less than your deductible, you may not want to file a claim. You might be better off paying out of pocket and not risking a possible rate increase. “If the loss is within the deductible or even close, I would think twice about filing a claim,” says Jay Feinman, an insurance expert and Rutgers University law professor.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to know how much the repairs will cost without getting a professional estimate. If this is the case, it’s probably best to call your insurance company. Your agent or insurance company representative may be able to help you estimate the cost, or you may be able to consult with a local building contractor. Just make sure you report and file your claim within the time limits specified in your policy.
When you are ready to notify the insurance company of the claim, have a copy of the policy and a list of questions handy. Describe the damage and confirm whether you are insured or not. Don’t be shy with questions and try to get a clear picture of what awaits you. Ask how long it will take to get the necessary documentation for the claim and how long you need to complete it. Find out if you’ll need to get estimates for major repairs to include in your claim, and if and when an insurance agent will come to inspect the damage.
The more thorough you are now, the better off you will be later. Remember, you don’t need full details of the loss or a detailed inventory to make the first call, but timeliness is key. If you are calling about a storm that has caused extensive damage in your area, get in line for an insurance adjuster and repairs as soon as possible. Describe the damage as best you can, ask if you are covered and what details you will need. Find out how much time you have to file your claim and start preparing accordingly.
How To Document Damages For An Insurance Claim
Filing a home insurance claim can be time consuming and tedious and requires a lot of attention to detail. But the more thorough you are, the faster you’re likely to get a settlement.
Record every phone call and conversation you have during the process, starting with the event that triggered the claim. This record should include the date of the conversations and the names of the people you talk to, from police officers to insurance representatives to contractors who provide appraisals.
Take photos or videos of the damage, including as much detail as possible, and do a room-by-room inspection as needed. Now is the time to pull out your household inventory, if you have one, with photos of the items before the damage occurred, along with their estimated value. Provide this information to your insurance company along with pictures or videos showing the damage to help you identify what was lost. If you don’t have a visual record from before the incident, you’ll still want to create one that shows the damage along with a detailed list of the items damaged or stolen.
If the claim is the result of a burglary, vandalism or other criminal activity, include a copy of the police report along with the names of the officers you spoke with. If someone has been injured on your property, be prepared to provide details and bills for medical or other out-of-pocket expenses.
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Make sure you include details of anything specifically requested by your insurance company and provide any additional back-up documentation or required certificates. More
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