What you should know about: Filing a Claim Under Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
A few simple tips on filing an insurance claim can help get your financial recovery started more quickly
If you’ve suffered damage to your home and want to make a claim on your homeowners policy, contact your agent or insurance company using the contact information provided on your “proof of insurance” card or on your policy. Be as prepared as possible to provide:
- A complete description of the damage (and photos if available).
- Any claim forms given to you by your insurance company to fill out. Be sure they are completed and make copies for your own records.
- A phone number or email address where you can be reached.
- Some companies today offer online claims services and even mobile applications (apps) you can fill out on your smart phone, tablet or laptop. Check with your insurance company or agent to find out more about your options.
Your agent or company representative will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will call you as soon as possible to inspect the damage.
In the Meantime...
- Protect your home from further damage. Make whatever temporary repairs you can, such as covering broken windows and holes in the roof or walls. Keep receipts for any purchases you make in connection with the repairs, because your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses you incur by making temporary repairs to property damaged by covered perils.
- Do what you can to salvage and protect damaged building equipment.
- If you can, secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain detailed specifications of the proposed repairs and detailed repair costs and replacement prices.
- Prepare a detailed inventory, including photographs, of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Provide one copy to the adjuster and keep a copy for your records. Your list should be as complete as you can make it and should include:
- Serial number and description of the item.
- Date of purchase or approximate age.
- Cost at the time of purchase and estimated replacement cost today.
- It is very helpful to provide canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other documents that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.
- Don't throw out damaged furniture and other expensive items as the adjuster will want to see them.
- Don't have permanent repairs done until after the adjuster has approved the price for the repairs. If you've received bids, share them with the adjuster. If the bids are too high, ask the adjuster to negotiate a better price with the contractor you would like to hire.
- When it’s time to do repairs, use only licensed, reputable building contractors and be sure they get the proper building permits.
- Obtain repair estimates for furniture or other personal property.
- If you must leave your home, be sure it is secured and protected from further damage. Let others know where you can be reached.
- And, since it is likely that your homeowners policy includes coverage for lodging if you are forced from your home by wildfire evacuations or extensive damage to your home, be sure to keep your lodging and meal receipts.
In conclusion ...
After your claim has been settled and the repair work is underway, take some time to evaluate your Homeowners Insurance policy. Talk with your insurance agent or company about any gaps in your coverage, deductible levels or other possible changes.
If you have questions regarding your coverage, making a claim or settling a claim, call your insurance agent or your company.
Some information provided by Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).