If you’ve ever had to deal with just about any type of insurance, you know that it’s no walk in the park. Insurance agencies can be brutal. Typically they have no sympathy for your situation nor feel any urgency to assist you. Hopefully, if something has recently happened to your home that’s caused considerable damages, you have homeowner’s insurance. If you don’t, you’re in for a stressful ride of attempting to pay for repairs out of pocket; or if it’s bad enough, leaving your house as it stands and finding a new one. Neither of these options is particularly ideal, but the best choice would have been to have homeowner’s insurance in the first place. If you were lucky enough to obtain insurance long before the incident, you may just be completely covered. Many people who haven’t dealt with insurance companies before think that they can simply call them up and ask for a check to be put in the mail. While this would be easy, it’s just not the case. Instead, here are some of the steps you need to go through in order to file a residential insurance claim.
Get in contact soon
Don’t be too quick to file a claim, but also don’t wait too long after the accident. You want to assess the damage first so that you can determine if asking the insurance company to pay up is worth the possible increase in your premiums. If you need the assistance, read over your policy thoroughly to make sure that whatever accident occurred is covered. Sometimes homeowner’s insurance doesn’t include events like flood, fallen trees, etc.
Take note of the damage
Take some time to take pictures of the damage and document things like personal possessions that were lost in the incident. Pictures from before the event will help to prove your case even further. If you feel that the insurance company isn’t paying you as much as the damage is worth, you have the option of hiring a public adjuster. Independent public adjusters will submit their own report to the insurance company. You’ll also be given a claim form to fill out, which will include contractor estimates. Once this is done, the claim can be processed.
Issues can delay the payment
Once you’ve submitted all of the necessary paperwork, it’s the insurance company’s responsibility to get a check to you as soon as possible. Issues with personal possessions or estimates can delay the payment. You can expect that the check be written in the name of your mortgage lender, in which case you’d have to forward to check to the mortgage company and wait for the remaining funds once the repairs are made.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies come with a deductible that you have to pay every time you file a claim. These typically range from $500-$2,000 but can be higher depending on the policy you’ve taken out. You’ll probably see the deductible shaved off the top of your final settlement, so don’t be surprised when you’re receiving a little less than you thought you would be.
What’s normally not a smooth and easy process can be made much less stressful if you hold up the responsibility on your end and know what to expect from the other parties involved. One of the most important steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the full amount you deserve is hiring that public adjuster. These guys don’t work for the insurance company, so their only goal is to maximize your payout. One public adjusting company called Excel Adjusters Inc. lays out their services on their website:
- Assess building damage
- Provide damage restoration services
- Review insurance policy coverage & the water damage restoration process
- Evaluate clients compliance responsibilities
- Investigate and measure the extent of the loss
- Evaluate replacement cost and or/depreciation
- Assemble business equipment claim
- Assemble support data for loss of income claim
- Prepare documentation for advance payment request
- Evaluate microbial contamination
- Assess total loss claims and review insurance estimates
- Expedite the claim process
- Negotiate final recovery to the insured’s satisfaction
Public adjusters are good to have on your side and for that reason you should do your homework the moment you think you may need to have to file a claim.