Having to file a homeowners insurance claim is an inevitability of owning a home. It could be due to damage to your house as the result of a thunderstorm or someone breaking into your house. It could even be an accident from a guest getting hurt on your property. Whatever the reason, you and your insurer have agreed upon rules and procedures each must follow. Please read your individual policy for your exact responsibilities. Below is a general procedure for many policies.
Report Crimes to the Police
If your insurance claim is related to criminal activity, you must report it to your local police. This could be from theft, vandalism, burglary, or more. You should get a police report, along with the names of each law enforcement officer you speak with in case you need to provide exact details of the incident to your insurer.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
First, you’ll want to make sure you are covered and how long you have to file the claim. Additionally, make sure your claim will exceed your deductible. If not it is almost always advisable to not go through the claims process.
If you decide to file the claim, you’ll need to fill out the claim forms associated with the specific claim. These legally have to be sent you within a certain period of time. You should try to fill out these forms as soon as possible to avoid any delays.
Schedule Insurance Adjuster to Inspect the Damage
Your insurance provider will likely need to send an adjuster to inspect your home for physical damage. You will need to be ready to show the insurance adjuster any damages to the structure of your house along with any damaged items. You should make a list of items destroyed or damaged making a copy for the insurance adjuster. If you have copies of receipts for damaged items you should provide them to your insurance adjuster.
If you need to make temporary repairs to any damage, take plenty of photos and videos of the damage along with the process of the repairs. Temporary repairs, generally, should only be done to protect your property from further damage. However, you should not throw out any damaged items until the adjuster has finished visiting your house. You can also save receipts for what you spent on temporary repairs to potentially be reimbursed.
After terms of the settlement are agreed upon between you and your insurance provider, they are required to send payment promptly. However, your insurance company may pay your contractor directly if you sign a “direction of pay” form with your contractor. For major damage, you will often receive multiple checks that are separated by the category damaged, such as, the structure of your home and your personal belongings. You would also receive a separate check for additional living expenses if your house is uninhabitable. But remember, your lender may have control over your payment if you have a mortgage on your house.
During the entire homeowners insurance claim process, you should not be shy about asking questions and clarifications. That’s what your insurance agent is there for!