How to Navigate the Home Insurance Claims Process
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UPDATED: Aug 13, 2020
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Knowing the home insurance claim process gives you a better chance to recover the money you deserve in a reasonable time frame. Depending on the size of your home insurance claim, you may be asked to get repair estimates, set up a home inspection, submit pictures of damage, and provide a list of receipts for lost items. Although the process can be confusing and time consuming, you need to know how to work through the home insurance claim process correctly if you want to get compensated for your losses.
Before You Start the Home Insurance Claims Process
It is important to assess the cost of the damage to your home and property before filing your home insurance claim. Filing a claim can cause your home insurance rates to increase, even if the claim is small. If you do not have significant damage to your home, get a repair estimate and consider paying the bill without involving the insurance company. Keep in mind that you will have to pay your deductible before the insurance company pays a claim, so you won’t necessarily be losing money by paying for small repairs.
TIP: Avoid the home insurance claim process by paying for repairs under or slightly above your deductible payment. Self insure on small claims, and prevent your home insurance rates from increasing!
If the damage to your home or property is extensive, contact your insurance company immediately to file the claim. It is also a good idea to take the following steps:
- Take pictures of the damage as soon as possible: You will need to document the damage that your home or property suffered quickly and accurately. Take plenty of pictures, and even walk through your home with a camcorder to paint an complete picture.
- Take all the costs into account: When you value the claim, include cost of materials, labor, and the value of items that you lost. Add in any money that you have to spend on alternate living arrangements, income you lost from missing work, money you spent on a rental car, and any other additional expenses.
- Prevent further damage, but notify the insurance company first: If you are able to prevent further damage with temporary repairs by you or a contractor, then you should talk to the insurance company about what you should do. Do not take any action without advice from your insurance company!
This immediate prep work can make your home insurance claim process go much smoother, and reduce the chance of problems in receiving the insurance money you deserve.
Basic Tips to Surviving the Home Insurance Claim Process
As you work through the home insurance claim process, keep some simple tips in mind that will help you get the settlement you deserve in a timely fashion. Working with an insurance company can be frustrating, but if you are prepared then you have a better chance of getting a favorable outcome.
- Be Thorough: The home insurance claim process reviews the extent and cause of the damage to your home or property. Make sure you are thorough when you describe the damage and the cause, but only stick to facts! You do not need to add your opinion! Additionally, be thorough by paying attention to deadlines, filling out all the necessary forms, and being in touch with the insurance company. Do not let a simple oversight jeopardize your home insurance claim!
- Try to be present for any inspections of the damage: Whether the insurance adjuster visits your home or sends an independent inspector, it may be in your best interest to be there as well. You can answer any questions, and prevent an outside party from jumping to conclusions. If you are unable to be present, request a copy of any report as soon as possible.
- Don’t get forced into a settlement! Do not be talked into a home insurance claim settlement or agreement just because you are sick of the process. Be patient, be firm, and get the home insurance check you deserve.
- Know your rights under the home insurance policy! Read through your policy, and make sure your company does what it is supposed to do. Whether you are owed alternate living arrangements, or the company is responsible for any damage inspection, be aware of what rights you have and exercise them.
- Make sure your claim is filed properly: Get a claim number, a contact name and a phone number for your insurance claims adjuster.
- Document EVERYTHING! As you go through the process of filing a home insurance claim, you will be in frequent communication with the company. It is important that you keep every document that you exchange with the company, and take detailed notes of any conversation that you have. You need to be diligent in recording and documenting the process.
- Stay on top of the insurance company: Your insurance claims adjuster can have multiple cases and may not be as responsive as you need them to be. While this is not a sign that the company is intentionally delaying your claim, it is something that you should prevent. Make sure you stay in regular contact with the company through the home insurance claim process.
- Work with the company, but don’t get pushed around: If you feel like you are owed for losses that you can prove occurred, do not accept short payment from the company. You can always dispute an insurance settlement if you can prove you are owed more damages.
- Be Honest: Do not lie on a home insurance claim. Not only will your claim be denied, but you can face legal consequences.
As you navigate the home insurance claim process, you need to keep in mind that it is a business transaction and treat it as such. No matter how well you know your agent or how long you have been with the company, the dollar signs on the bottom line are the most important thing to recovering from damage to your home. Be prepared, be professional, and be assertive when you need to be. If you have any questions about how to work with your home insurance company, click here to ask a professional for assistance.
Working with the Insurance Claims Adjuster
The home insurance claims adjuster will review the damage and your policy to determine what is covered, and how much the company will pay. You will need to work with this person by getting them all the appropriate documents or evidence they require. You will be asked questions about how the damage happened, and what condition the home was in prior to the incident. Always keep in mind that the home insurance claims adjuster works for the insurance company!! Insurance companies make more money if they pay out very little on claims, and if there is a way to short pay you then the adjuster will find it.
You need to be very careful about what you say and convey to a home insurance claims adjuster. Do not ever lie, but be very cautious about the information you freely give out. Do not ever give the claims adjuster more than what they specifically ask for, and be sure to watch how you phrase your statements. You do not need to be hostile or difficult with an adjuster, but maintain a sense of patience and calm and be careful not to jeopardize your claim by saying something that gives the insurance company a way out of paying.
If the adjuster concludes the home insurance claim process with a low settlement offer, you should be prepared to show the process you used to value the claim and any contractor estimates that helped generate your damage figures. It is important to maintain calm, even if the adjuster provides a low offer. If you elect to respond to the adjuster without an attorney, do so in a professional manner and be ready to provide proof of damages in support of your position. If you are concerned that you cannot get a fair settlement you can contact a home insurance attorney for assistance.
How a Lawyer can Help with the Home Insurance Claims Process
If the home insurance claim process begins to get complicated and the money you deserve is at risk of being denied, you may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney. When the company unreasonably delays your payout, offers you a settlement amount that is inadequate, or denies your home insurance claim, then you need to reach out to an attorney immediately.
Attorney consultations are free, so do not hesitate to ask an attorney if you think your claim is wrongfully delayed or denied. If you would like the advice of an attorney for a bad faith home insurance claim, click here and one will review your case for free.