The total losses incurred by homeowners in the United States were more than $44 billion in 2016. The figures increase yearly, with more insured homes reporting claims every year.
Home insurance protects homeowners against property damages which happen as a result of natural disasters. So, if you live in areas susceptible to natural disasters, you will most probably need to file a homeowner’s insurance claim at some point.
Filing the claim requires you to provide a lot of information to get a prompt reimbursement. To help you make an informed decision when filing it, we have discussed the crucial steps to follow in the homeowners insurance claim process.
But before then, let’s look at the criteria for filing a claim.
When to File for a Homeowners Insurance Claim
Don’t file a home insurance claim for every minor loss that takes place in your home. You can quickly lose your excellent customer credit with the insurance company.
Your insurance policy can also get lost and put you in a terrible loss when your home suffers a catastrophic change. Filing multiple claims raises the attention of the insurer, and they can increase your premiums. So, before you file the claim, ensure that you have enough coverage for it.
The replacement or repair costs should not exceed your deductible. Not only will you fail to acquire money from the insurance company, your insurance policy cost will also be increased.
Note that every insurance company has its requirements for filing a claim. If you pass the criteria, read on our step by step guide on how to file a home owner’s claim.
Document the Damage
Once the storm or flood has cleared, assess and document the losses. Don’t throw away the damaged or ruined items. Leave them at the scene because the insurance company will use them as evidence.
Contact your Insurer
You can do this through the website or phone number. After the contact, ask whether your policy covers the loss. Confirm how long they will take to process the claim, and whether you will need to get costs estimates from contractors and appraisers.
Make Temporary Repairs
When the company has assessed the damage, make temporary repairs. This will protect the home from further damage. Remember to hold on to your receipts when doing the repairs.
Also, don’t spend too much on the temporary repair work. When forced to relocate, hold on to your receipts too.
Fill out the Claims Forms
Your insurance company will give you a claim insurance number. The reference number makes it easy to answer questions related to the claim. It also allows them to get the information they need from you instantaneously.
The insurer will send you related forms. The forms require you to fill out your personal information and description of the claimed property. Make sure that you document accurate information.
You can also overestimate the value, mainly when the replacement cost value (RCV) guarantees full value replacement. After completion, return the forms as soon as possible.
Prepare for Insurance Inspection
An insurance inspector will come to inspect your home once again. The visit aims at confirming if the damage information you have filled in the forms is right.
In this situation, make your list of the damages and keep it. Also, supply the inspector with all the receipts you hold for the damaged property. You will get a faster reimbursement when you describe the goods you bought, photographs, and date of purchases.
Also, do a background check on the inspector/adjuster and make sure that they are licensed. An inexperienced inspector/adjuster may underestimate the loss. All in all, keep copies of all the paperwork and record personal details of all the people you talk to about the case.
There are two main types of reimbursement that determine how much you will be paid. The first one is the replacement costs value, and the second is the actual cash value. The difference between the two is the depreciation factor.
Payment based on replacement cost of the stolen or damaged property favors the insured. This is because it compensates the actual costs of replacing the property.
For instance, if your camera is stolen, the replacement cost reimbursement will pay for the full cost of the camera. The insurer does not consider wear and tear.
In contrast, the actual cash value replaces the cost of the property minus the depreciation. In the damaged camera case, the insurance company would deduct wear and tear. Actual cash value is also known as the market value.
In other cases, the reimbursement amount depends on the sources of calamity.
Choose a repair company
After the reimbursement, choose a repair company to get your beautiful home back. Although the insurer can recommend a mortgage company or adjuster, you can still choose your own.
The contractor will give you a bid which you should show to the insurance inspector for approval. The rebuilding process can start immediately when approved.
Note that the insurer will provide specification under which the repair process should be done. Also, the inspector will regularly check on the repairs progress.
The Repair Has Started, Now What?
During the repair process, go through your homeowners’ policy to evaluate the level of coverage. Ensure that there are no miscalculations and that the replacement cost covers the personal property.
Filing a homeowners insurance claim is not easy, as multiple factors often arise. Some of them may prevent your claim from being settled to satisfaction. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to speak to your insurer or the insurance agent for advice.
You may need to provide additional documents, appraisal, and pictures for an attractive settlement.
The good news is that you can avoid those problems by preparing well. Contact us today to insure your home. We will also advise on how to minimize homeownership risks.