As a homeowner, you hope that you never have to deal with major problems. But accidents happen - storms topple trees and tear away sections of your roof, plumbing fails and causes water damage throughout your property, break-ins result in damaged locks and stolen valuables, and the list goes on. Simply put, there are many hazards facing your property. The good news is that with the right home insurance, you can relax in the knowledge that you and your family are financially protected from these and other dangers.
But when the time comes, what's the right process for addressing these issues with your home insurance provider?
Here, we walk you through step by step on how to file a homeowner insurance claim. But first, let's consider when you should (and when you shouldn't) involve your insurance company.
When Should You File a Home Insurance Claim?
Before you reach out to your provider to file a claim, you first need to determine whether the damage is covered by homeowners insurance. Most insurance policies include specific exclusions and exceptions, so reading through your policy is highly recommended.
If the damages are covered, then you should also consider how much repairs would cost if you were to handle them yourself or pay for a contractor out of pocket. If addressing the problem yourself looks like it will cost less than your insurance deductible, then you might actually end up paying more for your insurance company to step in. As an added concern, even small claims might result in a potential increase in your insurance premium, and may also be added to your insurance history.
If your claim is valid and you're sure that you want to involve insurance, then the best course of action is to file your claim as quickly as possible so you can get the issue resolved. Most policies require that you file your claim within one year, but specific regulations may vary.
How to File a Home Insurance Claim in 10 Steps
The process for filing a homeowner insurance claim is not overly complicated, but you'll want to make sure that you don't miss any of the following steps:
- Contact the Police to Report any Crimes. If your claim is the result of theft or other criminal activity (such as vandalism), your first step should be to contact the police to report the crime. Keep a copy of the police report as confirmation and share it with your insurance company.
- Contact Your Insurance Company. Reach out to your home insurance provider immediately. If you have any questions regarding coverage, costs, deductibles, etc., an insurance representative should be able to walk you through your issues and inform you of any other next steps you should be aware of. Your insurer will send you claim forms to fill out, and will likely also assign you an adjuster to inspect the damage.
- Document the Situation. The more clearly you can document damages and losses, the more accurate your claim will be. Take detailed photos and videos of any areas of your property that may have been affected, and (if possible) include images of those areas prior to the event. If you have visual records of any damaged or stolen items, include those as well.
- Make Urgent Repairs. If your property is at risk from further damage, make any necessary, urgent repairs while you wait for the insurance adjuster. This may include basic, stopgap solutions such as covering a damaged roof with a tarp, or more in-depth repairs that require additional costs. Keep your receipts for any repairs you make; your insurer may be willing to reimburse you.
- Fill Out Claim Forms. By this point, you should have received the claim forms from your insurance company. Fill these out completely and accurately and return them immediately to help move the process forward. If you have any questions about the forms, don't hesitate to contact your insurance provider.
- Work with the Insurance Adjuster. If an adjuster is sent to your home, cooperate with them and give them access to any damaged areas they may need to inspect, and have a list of damaged items ready and available. The adjuster may also wish to interview you to get a more accurate idea of the situation; answer their questions as thoroughly as you can.
- Keep All of Your Receipts. If you don't have the right documentation, then your insurance will not be able to reimburse you for your expenses. Keep receipts for any urgent repairs and living expenses that are covered in your policy (such as hotel rooms). Once a contractor gets involved, ask them to make their invoice as detailed as possible, and to itemize expenses such as labor costs and materials. If you are reporting a liability claim, write out a description of the events that took place, and have a witness verify your account (if possible).
- Document Conversations and Interactions. Seeing your insurance claim through to the end will likely involve a number of emails, telephone calls, and other interactions. Document these conversations and record when each took place, what details were covered, and the names of anyone involved (insurance representatives, police officers, etc.). Communicating over email allows you to save and review entire conversations, making it easy to find specific information when you need it.
- Regularly Follow Up. Provided everything is in order, there's no reason why your provider shouldn't be able to resolve the issue quickly. Keep on top of your claim by following up with your insurance company on a weekly basis. Additionally, make sure that you are keeping track of any deadlines or responsibilities on your end.
- Review Your Settlement. Once everything is finalized, your insurance provider will send you a document detailing the settlement offer. This will specify the terms of the settlement. If you are not satisfied with the offer, you can contact your insurer to have them review the claim or consider new evidence or other documentation. You may also wish to hire a third-party public adjuster to help you contest the claim. Be aware that once you accept the settlement, the claim is legally closed and cannot be contested further, so make sure you review it closely before you agree.
Be Prepared for Whatever Comes Your Way
Life is unpredictable, but that doesn't mean you can't be prepared with home insurance. When disaster strikes, you need the right partners backing you up and protecting you and your family from financial hardship. Find a provider through Acrisure, and be prepared for whatever life throws at you.