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Filing a renters insurance claim can be simple if you are prepared. As a renter, you should know how to file a claim for different events, as well as keep inventory of all the things you own. We go into more detail below.
Filing a renters insurance claim
There are three types of renters claims you can file: property damage, property loss or liability claim. For all three it comes down to a few key steps following 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 of the damage. Take pictures too.
- Call your insurance company as soon as you can or submit a claim 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, etc. you would need to file a property damage claim. This is the crux of a renters insurance policy. If you are unsure if the cause of your damages is something you are covered for, you can get more information here.
If you are covered, it is important you take careful records of what was damaged. The better idea you have of what was damaged, as well as its relative value, the easier your claims process will be. When the adjuster comes over the assess the damage, and if the case is clear, they could even write you a check on the spot. If something is unclear upon first inspection, they may take some more time to deliberate on how much you should be reimbursed.
While you are waiting for the adjuster, however, you should address any lingering issues like a broken window or exposed part of the apartment. A temporary solution to prevent any further damage should do. 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, but any mold damage you would get from not calling in the team may not be covered.
Property loss renters claim
Property loss is when your belongings are stolen either outside or inside your home. This claim follows all of the steps above except here it is very important you obtain a copy of the police report to give to your insurer. Theft claims do not have the physical evidence of 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 for your company to fully believe your case. If there is any delay between when the crime happened and when you file your claim, that can cast doubt over the whole thing.
Someone filing a claim against your liability renters insurance because they were injured in their home is the most different type of the three claims. After the injury occurs, it is important to take notes of the damage, when it happened, how it happened, as well as noting 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 it is determined 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 accepts the settlement. If they do not, then they can then decide to file a lawsuit.
Your insurance company will stick with your case however and provide a lawyer. They will still try to settle the matter out of court. If worst case the case still goes to court, all of the associated legal fees will be paid for. If you lose the case in court, your liability insurance will pay for the settlement.
Filing a renters claim without receipts
You actually do not need to worry much about having meticulous records of your receipts for the things you own. Most renters do not have those records and the insurance companies understand it. Pictures are usually the best proof of what was damaged. Adjusters also have a good idea of the relative costs of certain items. They are also adept at detecting fraud, so if your case is legitimate, you shouldn't worry about them mistakenly thinking you're trying to defraud them.
In certain cases, it would definitely be beneficial to have some sort of record of you purchasing a damaged item. Those cases usually involve out of the ordinary property. If you have a Charlotte Thomas bedsheet that costs $2,400 for example that is going to be an out of the ordinary item your adjuster could be skeptical of. If you can show them 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. Most claims will not be denied but the majority of the ones that are denied are cases where the cause of the damage was not covered by the renters policy. One example would be submitting a lost property claim for an item that was stored in a residence not covered by the policy. The language in your policy will exclude coverage for those types of options. The only solution in these cases would be to hire some sort of counsel to fight for 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.
Other common issues are 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, related or specifically added them to the policy. If you are behind on your monthly payments as well, your company may deny your claim until you square your debt.