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How To File a Home Insurance Claim

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Dealing with unexpected damage to your home can be a stressful experience. House fires, burst pipes and theft can happen to anyone. Luckily, this is where home insurance comes in. This type of insurance provides financial compensation for any losses related to home damage. To access this compensation, you need to file a home insurance claim.

This article guides you through the claims process step-by-step to help you successfully navigate the process and get your life back on track.

The main takeaways from this article include

      What to do immediately after an incident.

      How to check your insurance policy for coverage limits.

      How to file a home insurance claim, step-by-step.

Let’s explore the first steps you should take after an incident.

What to Do Right After Your House Is Damaged

Whether it’s a fire, a flood, or something in between, remember to secure your safety first, prevent further damage, and document everything you can. Here’s an overview of what these steps might entail:

1. Ensure Your Safety and Prevent Further Damage

While the damage occurs, remember to take steps to ensure nobody gets hurt and no further damage occurs. Here’s what to do in the case of a burst pipe, a fire, or a theft:

Burst pipe:

      Turn off the water.

      If electrical outlets or wires are in contact with the water, turn off anything electric.

      Call your plumber and then your insurance. Keep any receipts and document as much as you can.

Fire:

      If you have a fire extinguisher, do your best to put out the fire. If it’s a grease fire, never pour water on it. Smother a grease fire with a lid or damp towel.

      If the fire is too large to control, get everyone out of the house immediately, leaving possessions behind if necessary for your safety.

      Call the fire department.

Theft:

      If you come home and see that you’ve been robbed ensure nobody is still lurking in your house. Call the police immediately and wait in a safe place until they confirm it’s all clear.  Get a case number from the police to help your claims process go smoothly.

      Do your best to avoid burglary by being vigilant, locking your doors and not leaving your spare key in obvious places.

In cases of storm damage, earthquake damage, or other structural damage, remember to find cover somewhere safe if the situation is dangerous.

 

2. Document the Damage 

Once it is safe, document the damage or loss by taking photographs or videos. This visual evidence will be crucial when filing your home insurance claim. Be thorough and capture all the affected areas or items. Here’s how to document the damage or loss:

      Photographs and Videos: Take clear and detailed photographs or videos of the damage. Make sure to capture all angles and include any relevant details. Security footage will be a plus in the case of a robbery.

      Inventory of Damaged or Lost Items: Create an inventory of all damaged or lost items. Include a description, approximate value, and supporting documentation, such as receipts or appraisals.

 

Now that you have taken immediate action and documented the damage, it’s time to review your insurance policy to understand the coverage and limits you have in place.

How to Review Your Insurance Policy

If you’re unsure if your insurance will cover the damage, it helps to review your current policy to see what they can help with. Check the following:

      Coverage: Check the specific coverage provided by your policy. Is the damage or loss you experienced covered?

      Deductibles: Familiarize yourself with the deductibles applicable to your policy. The deductible is the amount you are responsible for paying out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. If the damage is minor and will likely cost less than the deductible to repair, it may not be worth filing a claim since the insurance will not pay back an amount less than the deductible.

      Limits: Review the limits of your policy. Some policies have sub-limits for specific types of items or events. Ensure you understand these limits to avoid any surprises during the claims process.

Now that you understand your coverage, it’s time to contact your insurance company and initiate the claims process.

How to Start the Home Insurance Claims Process

Contacting your insurance company is the first step in starting the claims process. Remember, it can sometimes seem deliberately difficult to file a claim, but be patient and follow up persistently.

      Locate Your Policy Information: Gather your insurance policy documents, including your policy number and the contact information for your insurance company.

      Notify Your Insurance Company: Call your insurance company’s claims department to report the damage or loss. Describe the date of the incident and what kind of damage occurred. Provide them with any supporting documentation, such as photographs.  

      Follow Their Instructions: Your insurance company will guide you through the next steps of the claims process. They may assign an adjuster to assess the damage or request additional documentation. Make sure to follow their instructions promptly and provide any requested information.

      Keep Records: Maintain a record of all communications with your insurance company, including dates, times, and the names of the individuals you speak with. These records will come in handy if any disputes arise during the claims process.

Once you have filed your home insurance claim, the next step is working with an adjuster who will assess the damage and help determine the amount of your claim.

How to Start the Home Insurance Claims Process

After contacting your insurance company, an adjuster will be assigned to your claim. An adjuster assesses the damage or loss and determines how much you can claim from your insurance.

The adjuster will do several things:

      Inspection: The adjuster will schedule an inspection of your property to assess the extent of the damage. They may take photographs and measurements, and ask questions about the incident.

      Documentation Review: The adjuster will review your documentation, including photographs, videos, and any other supporting evidence. They may also request additional documentation if needed.

      Claim Evaluation: Based on the inspection and documentation review, the adjuster will evaluate your claim and determine the coverage under your policy. They will calculate the amount of your claim, accounting for any deductibles or limits.

Once the adjuster completes their evaluation, they will present you with a claim settlement offer.  You can review this offer and decide to accept it or renegotiate if it doesn’t seem sufficient to cover the damage.

What to Do If Your Home Insurance Claim Settlement Isn’t Enough

When reviewing the claim settlement offer from your insurance company’s adjuster, it’s essential to understand your rights and options. Here’s what you should do if your claim settlement offer is insufficient:

      Read the offer carefully: Familiarize yourself with the coverage, deductibles, and any additional conditions or requirements. This will help during negotiations.

      Negotiate: If you believe the settlement offer is inadequate, you have the right to negotiate. Provide additional evidence or documentation to support your claim and present a counteroffer. For example, find an expert to assess the damage separately and provide this as additional proof.

      Seek Legal Assistance: If you cannot negotiate a fair settlement, consider consulting with a public insurance adjuster or an attorney. They can provide expert guidance and advocate for your rights.

Remember to be patient and follow all the necessary procedures to help you get the insurance payout you need. It’s better to be temporarily inconvenienced than to end up with no payout at all.

Final Thoughts

Filing a home insurance claim can be a frustrating, time-consuming process. However, by sticking to the procedure, following up, and providing sufficient evidence and documentation of the damage, you’ll be well on your way to getting your house fixed up and safe once again. Be patient, and good luck!

Author Bio

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Mohamed Konate

Mohamed Konate is a personal finance expert, blogger, and marketing consultant based out of Toronto. He is a former financial services professional who worked for many years at major Canadian financial institutions where he managed the marketing strategy around various financial products ranging from credit cards to lines of credit. Mohamed is passionate about personal finance and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Quebec (Montreal) and a Master in International Business from the University of Sherbrooke (Quebec).He is also the author of the Canadian Credit Card Guidebook. Read his full author bio