June 26, 2017

Home Insurance Claim Process

Understanding the Homeowners Insurance Claim Process

We know that the best way to avoid storm damage is to disaster-proof our home or business, however, what happens once the damage is done?  The only option is to file a homeowners insurance claim.  Filing an insurance claim might be a mystery but with American Property Loss on your side, this post-disaster process can run swiftly and smoothly.

Burglary

If you home or business has been burglarized, your first step should be to contact the police and not touch anything until they have completed their crime investigation.  You don’t want to destroy or compromise evidence that might lead to the burglar being convicted of a crime.

Prevent Further Damage with Temporary Repairs

You may also have to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage from occurring.  As far as the insurance company is concerned, if you were aware of something that was slightly damaged and didn’t take the necessary precautions to prevent further disrepair, they won’t pay for it.  For example, if you know there’s a leak in your roof, and the weatherman says a storm is coming, get a tarp.  If that small hole in the roof becomes a huge gaping tear that results in the destruction of your home, your homeowners insurance claim can be denied on the basis of your negligence.

If you hire a contractor to make temporary repairs, keep the receipts for your claim.  These repairs are a part of your overall settlement and if too much is paid before permanent repairs begin there may not be enough funds left in your settlement to cover other expenses.

An Insurance Claim Starts by Notifying the Insurance Carrier

Don’t wait.  Give your insurance agent/company notice of damages immediately.  If there is a flood in your home DO NOT wait for the water to go down before contacting your agent.  Call right away and ask what information they will need to know.

When you contact the insurance agent ask these questions:

  • Is there a time limit of filing a claim?
  • Where can I obtain the claim forms?
  • How long will it take to process the claim?
  • Will I need to obtain estimates for the repairs or will the adjuster do this for me?

Inventory.  Record the Damages.

It’s always a good idea to document any damages that occur in your home or business.  Since you know your property best, the insurance company will expect you to detail the extent and amount of the damage you have sustained.  If it is possible, document the damage with a videotape.  This lets the insurance agent see at a glace the extent of the damage and will be able to advise you whether or not the claim may exceed the deductible in your policy.

Take close up photographs of your furniture, any damaged walls and rooms, your own personal belongings, etc.  Separate all of your personal belongings and home content, the damaged from the undamaged.  Don’t throw away the damaged content; your homeowners insurance claims adjuster will want to inspect them.  Write everything down that you know is damaged, could be damaged, or missing to make up an inventory list.

If you have documentation (photos, video, receipts, serial numbers, etc.) of your home’s content from before the damage occurred, that would make the insurance claim process run even more smoothly, allowing the adjuster the opportunity to compare the “before” and “after” conditions of your property.

Insurance Claims Adjuster

Your insurance company will send out an adjuster to review the damage.  Independent Adjusters view the loss from the perspective of the insurance company, resolving doubts in the company’s favor.

Get Written Estimates before Submitting Your Claim.

Get several written estimates from licensed contractors on cost of repairs to your home. Make sure that they include an itemized list of the items and prices necessary to repair your home. The more information you have about the damage to your home the quicker the claims process will be. Complete any paperwork that your home insurance agent or company sends as quickly as possible. Also retain copies of any lists or information sent for your records.

Itemize the scope of damage to your business building and the contents as well as debris removal costs incurred, extra expense, business interruption.  Review other coverage your policy may contain.

If you lack coverage, call anyway.

For example, flood insurance coverage is frequently an issue. Most policies don’t include flood insurance; homeowners often have to purchase this coverage separately. If you don’t have flood insurance coverage, call your homeowners insurance claims department anyway. If you need to leave your home while it is getting restored, your policy may cover any out-of-home living expenses if you have Loss of Use coverage.

Beware of Service Company’s Offer to “Help” You

Many service companies will arrive to offer you assistance and will have answers to all of your problems. Be cautious of contractors and restoration companies, as well as loss consultants that aggressively approach you. Take the time to call the local Better Business Bureau and check references to establish their qualifications. Make certain that the loss consultant is licensed in your area and is a member of The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA).

It has taken you many years and hard work to accumulate this property and the value of your home and/or business. Your claim may actually settle in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars. Slow down and take the time to evaluate your position and realize that the claim money is yours to spend as you decide. In other words, avoid foolish or wasteful expenses and keep a close eye to detail. Like most people you probably spent an extensive amount of time and research in the purchase of the property; make certain you treat your recovery with the same care.

Question everything and analyze the motives and position of each of the players in your recovery process. Analyze why someone would not want a loss consultant on your claim and consider his or her reasoning. If the source of any negativity comes from the insurance company, question why they would prefer you not have a professional on your side.  Level the playing field by hiring an American Property Loss Adjuster.

Insurance Company Will Examine Your Claim

The insurance company will then examine your claim, and adjust it if they disagree with your claim analysis. Often the company adjuster’s analysis and your analysis will be different. It is important that you know that as your licensed public adjuster, part of our job is to negotiate on your behalf to get the claim settled. The insurance carrier’s adjuster represents the insurance company and is negotiating on its behalf. They usually do not know what you actually lost and many items are overlooked or not presented by you.

If you and your insurance carrier can not agree on the loss, seek help. You may want to hire a licensed public insurance adjuster, such as American Property Loss, to negotiate the claim. Some claims can be resolved through an appraisal process involving independent appraisers. Look at your policy to see if it provides for an appraisal, and hire professional help if you decide to initiate the appraisal procedure.

If you do not agree with the settlement that you insurance company has provided contact them directly and explain your side of the issue and include supporting documentation. You can also contact your state insurance department to discuss the settlement disagreement. A state insurance department representative will contact the insurance company and try to resolve the situation on your behalf. Your final resort is to contact an attorney and provide them with your insurance policy and any other documentation. Remember that once you have consulted an attorney, the adjuster, your insurance company and your agent will only be able to communicate with the lawyer.

At American Property Loss, our main goal is to make sure your claim is settled to your satisfaction.  We won’t let our clients occur the added expense of hiring an attorney to handle their settlement.

At American Property Loss Your Recovery is Our Success!

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