How to File a Renters Insurance Claim

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Filing a renters insurance claim can be simple if you are prepared. Learn how to file a claim for different events and what you can do to help the process go smoothly.

Filing a renters insurance claim

There are three types of renters claims you can file: property damage, property loss or liability.

For all three, there are a few key steps to follow after a calamity in your rental home:

  • Call the fire department or police department in cases of fire, flooding or theft/vandalism, and obtain copy of the police report.
  • Once you are safe, take notes and pictures of the damage.
  • Call your insurance company as soon as you can, or submit a claim online or in the company’s app if you have the option.
  • Fill out any documentation sent from your insurer right away.
  • Wait for the adjuster.

Property damage renters claim

If your belongings were destroyed by a fire, water leak or similar event, you would need to file a property damage claim. It can sometimes be difficult to know if an event is covered by your renters insurance. Generally, the immediate damages from an event that was out of your control are covered.

If you believe you're covered, it is important to take careful records of what was damaged. Being able to detail what was damaged, and its relative monetary value, will help your claims process go more smoothly.

When the adjuster comes to assess the damage, if the case is clear, they might write you a check on the spot. If something is unclear upon first inspection, they may take some more time to deliberate how much you should be reimbursed.

While you are waiting for the adjuster, however, you should address any damage that could cause additional issues, like a broken window or exposed part of the apartment. Any costs associated with the temporary repairs may be included in your future settlement.

One example is calling in a mold remediation team after an internal flood. The cost of the team should be covered by your claim. If you skip that service, and more mold accumulates from the flooding while you’re waiting for an insurance payout, that additional damage would likely not be covered.

Property loss renters claim

Property loss is when your belongings are stolen either outside or inside your home. In this case it is very important to obtain a copy of the police report and give it to your insurer. Theft claims do not have physical evidence like property damage claims, so it is easier for adjusters to doubt the authenticity of your claim.

An official police report gives your claim legitimacy. Filing your claim as soon as possible is another way to show your credibility to your insurer. If there is any delay between when the crime happened and when you file your claim, that can cast doubt over the whole thing.

Liability claim

Someone filing a claim against your liability renters insurance because they were injured in your home is a bit different from property damage and property loss claims. After the injury occurs, it is important to take notes of when and how it happened and who witnessed the accident.

If the injury happened in your home, the injured person will file a claim against your insurer. Your company will send over an adjuster, who will become more like an investigator in this case. The adjuster will get statements and evidence from people who witnessed the accident and form a report. If the adjuster determines that you are the cause of the accident, your insurance company will then try to reach a settlement with the person who filed the claim. Hopefully, the claimant will accept the settlement. If they do not, they can decide to file a lawsuit.

Your insurance company will stick with your case and provide a lawyer. They’ll also continue trying to settle the matter. If the case still goes to court, all of the associated legal fees will be covered by your insurance. If you lose the case in court, your liability insurance will pay for the settlement.

Filing a renters claim without receipts

You don't need to worry about having meticulous records and receipts for the things you own. While receipts and pictures can be very helpful, most renters do not have those records, and the insurance companies understand. Pictures of the damage are usually the best proof, and adjusters have a good idea of what things cost. They are also adept at detecting fraud, but if your case is legitimate, you shouldn't worry about them mistakenly thinking you're trying to defraud them.

There are some cases where it is beneficial to have a record of purchase for an item. Those cases usually involve out-of-the-ordinary property, such as $2,400 Charlotte Thomas bedsheets with 22-karat gold woven into them. Your adjuster could be skeptical of reimbursing that much for sheets, which typically cost a fraction of that. If you can show a credit card statement from the sale, that should suffice.

What if your renters claim is denied?

If your claim is denied, the best thing to do is remain calm and figure out why. The majority of denied claims are cases where the cause of the damage was not covered by the renters policy.

For example, if your childhood album collection was stolen from your parents’ house, it wouldn't be covered, because it was stored in a residence not covered by the policy.

Another common issue is determining who is covered by the policy. If your roommate causes a fire, for example, the damage they cause won't be covered by your renters policy unless you are married, are related or have specifically added them to the policy. Sharing a renters insurance policy with a roommate is never a good idea, so avoid it if you can.

Also, if you are behind on your monthly payments, your company may deny your claim until you square your debt.

If you disagree with a claim denial, you can hire counsel to fight your case. We would only recommend that, however, if you are confident your claim is valid, and there is a lot of money on the line. Hiring a lawyer is not worth it for a claim less than a few thousand dollars.

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