It is easy to panic when you have to file a claim on your homeowners insurance. You are already upset because you are dealing with unexpected damage to your home. Take a deep breath and then follow these tips on how to file a homeowners insurance claim.
Call your company or agent
Locate your insurer’s phone number and call to report what has happened. Some companies encourage you call your agent if possible. Others have a 24-hour toll free number for you to call. Provide as many details as you can while the incident is still fresh in your mind. While you are waiting for an adjuster to call you back, there are some steps you should take immediately and some information you will need to help you get though the claim process.
Call the police
If your home has been broken into, call the police. A home break-in is a crime. Make sure to keep the police report to file with your claim.
Secure the property
It is your responsibility to do whatever is needed to secure the property. Broken windows and storm damage need to be boarded up as soon as possible. If you have to call a contractor to help you make temporary repairs, take pictures before they start, and then save the pictures and receipts to turn in with your claim. Your insurer wants you to do this; it reduces the cost of the claim when you take steps to prevent further damage.
Find temporary housing
If you cannot stay in the home due to the damage, find a place to stay while the repairs are being done. Most homeowner’s policies will pay reasonable amounts for temporary housing due to your loss. Make sure to keep the receipts so this expense can be included in your settlement.
Start taking an inventory
You will need to provide a list of all damaged property, including quantity. The company will give you some time to complete this, but it takes time, and the sooner you start, the more complete your list will be.
Fire Department charges
Your policy may pay for fees from the fire department, even if the department is a volunteer group. When reimbursement is included in the policy, it is usually given as a set amount. Most companies provide a $500 limit.
When a storm brings a tree down, your policy many include tree removal reimbursement. If you have the coverage, it will be provided with a limit; approximately $500 is the usual amount.
Sign a loss statement
You will be required to sign a loss statement, usually within 60 days of the loss. This includes all the information that is needed for the claim to be finalized. It will include all details related to the claim, like the time and cause of your loss. You may need to prove ownership of the property such as receipts for jewelry that has been stolen. It will also include estimates for the repairs to be done and the inventory list of the damaged property you lost.
Cooperate with the adjuster
It is important to cooperate with the company adjusters. This is their job, and they have the expertise to make sure that your claim is handled correctly. They need to see the damage and may ask you for records or receipts to help determine the value of property. This kind of documentation will assist them in giving you an equitable value for the property you lost.
Filing a homeowners insurance claim will not be a hassle if you understand what you need to do and that your cooperation helps the company settle your claim fairly and quickly.