If your home was damaged in a house fire, break-in, or other unfortunate events, you’ll want to file a home insurance claim. You cannot simply relax and wait for your insurance provider to make payment. To ensure that you receive full payment for your homeowners insurance claim, you must disclose the problem as soon as possible, keep track of all expenses, and interact with the insurer. A claim against your homeowners policy comes with rules and procedures that both you and your insurer must follow. Below, we lead you through the procedure on how to file a home insurance claim in seven simple steps, from submitting a police complaint to coordinating with an insurance adjuster and resolving your claim.
What is an insurance claim?
Home insurance protects more than just the structure of your home. If something happens to your house, personal belongings, or a structure on your property, you may consider filing an insurance claim. Homeowners insurers have coverages that protect the structure, your personal belongings, liability, and other structures from a number of perils including fire, theft, wind, and hail.
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How long do you have to file a home insurance claim?
Before thinking about filing a home insurance claim, it is important you know how long you have to file the claim. The time it takes to file a home insurance claim can vary from a few months to an entire year. If you wait too long to file, your provider may not cover the incident (or they may only cover a small portion) This is due to the fact that waiting to file may have caused extraneous damage that was preventable if you had filed immediately. However, all insurance companies are not the same, so you must carefully review your policies to ascertain your precise needs.
What You Should Do First When Filing a Claim?
When filing a claim, you must ensure to do the following:
- Contact your insurance agent or company right away to get the claims process started.
- Make a list of damaged property and talk to your agent or adjuster before discarding any damaged property.
- Photograph or video the damage if possible; don’t throw anything away until an adjuster has looked at it.
- Take steps to minimize further damage and protect your health.
- Make repairs necessary to protect your home and property from further damage, such as covering broken windows and holes to keep the rain out and prevent theft.
- Don’t make permanent repairs until instructed by your insurance company.
- Save all repair receipts.
- When the insurance company’s adjuster inspects the damage, walk around with them to make sure they don’t miss anything.
How to make a claim
Filing a home insurance claim is a multi-step process, and not all claims follow the same order or schedule. In this article, we’ll tell you the basic steps you need to follow to file a homeowners claim.
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STEP 1: Survey the Damage and File a Police Report if Necessary
If a thief broke into your home and damaged your electronics, you’d need to call the police and file a report. Get a police report and the names of all law enforcement officers that you speak with as you may need to provide the details of the event to your insurer.
On the other hand, you’ll not need a police report for damages unrelated to criminal activity. Your insurance provider will need to see an official document that breaks down what damage occurred and any other relevant details. So, If you are filing a claim after a natural disaster like a wildfire or tornado, survey the damage before contacting your insurance company. You must avoid throwing out anything that’s ruined or damaged — instead keep it so you have documentation for when the insurance inspector comes by.
STEP 2: Contact Your Home Insurers Immediately
After contacting the police, your next step is to contact your insurance company. They’ll tell you if the damage or theft is covered by your policy. You’ll then fill out the claim forms provided by your insurer. Submitting a claim immediately can help get you close to the front of the line.
You may also be given a ballpark estimate of the loss amount and whether or not it exceeds your deductible. If your loss is lower than your deductible, you probably won’t want to go through the claims filing process.
Below is the contact information of some of the top homeowners insurers:
File a claim online
|State Farm||800-782-8332||Start a claim|
|Nationwide||800-421-3535||Start a claim|
|Allstate||800-255-7828||Download the mobile app|
|Farmers Insurance||800-435-7764||Start a claim|
|Progressive||800-776-4737||Start a claim|
|Liberty Mutual||800-225-2467||Start a claim|
STEP 3: Document the Damage
You’ll also need to document all the damage to send proof to your insurance provider before you begin to clean up. Taking photos and creating an inventory of damaged items gives you and your insurer a record of everything that needs to be repaired or replaced. You’ll need to estimate how much each damaged item in your home will cost to repair or replace. If you don’t have a home inventory, you can do some research online to find approximate costs.
STEP 4: Save All Your Receipts After Temporary Repairs
If you’ve made any temporary repairs after damage to your home, hold onto the receipts so that you’re reimbursed by your insurance company. Additionally, save all of your receipts for hotel stays, restaurant meals, pet boarding, dry cleaning, and other living expenses so that your insurer covers them too.
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Step 5: Have the Insurance Adjuster Inspect the Damage
The adjuster’s role is to inspect the damage and confirm several details before reimbursement can proceed. This inspection may include but isn’t limited to, a detailed inspection of your home’s structure. If it’s a liability claim, the adjuster may ask for contact information for doctors, lawyers, or anyone familiar with the claim. It may also require a thorough interview with you, the policyholder.
Step 6: Get Estimates from Contractors
Before settling your claim, consider getting several quotes from licensed contractors or appraisal experts. Bear in mind that your insurance provider will conduct their own research into how much it will cost to repair any damage or replace your belongings. Getting your own estimates will ensure you receive enough money to cover the costs and that you are working with a decent contractor.
Step 7: Settle Your Claim and Schedule Repairs
The final step in your insurance claim process is to settle the claim. Settling refers to an official closing on the claim when both parties have agreed to the payout amount. You’ll typically receive multiple checks based on the structures and personal belongings damaged in an accident.
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