Find Cheap Homeowners Insurance Quotes in Your Area
About 1 in 20 homeowners makes an insurance claim each year — but getting reimbursed for a covered incident isn't as easy as simply filing a document.
You can boost your chances of success by preparing in advance, though. The first step is maintaining records of your property and understanding your policy's limits and exclusions. After an incident, you'll need to keep in touch with your insurance company and provide whatever they need to process the claim.
Make an itemized list for future insurance claims
When you have homeowners insurance, it's important to make an itemized list of your belongings before a disaster strikes. The list should include:
- Anything you would need to replace after a covered incident.
- Prices for each item.
- The date you purchased the item.
- Receipts if you have them.
This list will help you figure out how much you'd be able to replace if you had to make a homeowners claim.
Keeping track of what you own and how much the items are worth can help you determine when you need to extend coverage. It can also help you figure out if you need to purchase endorsements.
Understand how to deal with insurance adjusters
When you file a claim, an insurance adjuster will evaluate your property damage and decide how much you'll receive as reimbursement. An adjuster's job is to minimize payouts for the insurance company, so be careful what you divulge to them. You should never make statements that could be taken as an admission of guilt.
But no matter what, you should always be truthful with your insurance company and the adjuster. Misrepresenting or concealing information is considered a form of insurance fraud, which could invalidate your claim and lead to legal penalties.
Document your interactions with the insurance adjuster
When you're assigned an insurance adjuster, start documenting your interactions in a journal or spreadsheet.
If you're uncomfortable dealing with an insurance adjuster, it might be a good idea to hire your own insurance adjuster to assist your claims process. Public adjusters interact with your insurer's adjuster so you don't have to, and they could help you avoid any hidden pitfalls during the claims process. Public adjusters earn a percentage of your claim if it's successful.
Report and document any damage to your property
If your property is damaged and you need to file a homeowners insurance claim, here are the steps you might expect to take:
- Contact your insurance company. Report any property damage to your insurance company right away and determine if you'll file a claim.
- File a police report, if needed. If the damage resulted from a crime, report it to the police and ask for a copy of the police report. You'll need this document when you make the claim with your insurance company.
- Create a log of the incident. This should include a description of the damage along with pictures.
- Create an inventory. If you don't already have an itemized list, begin an inventory of your property by gathering any receipts or descriptions of the items you have.
- Gather repair estimates. This information can help you estimate the cost of the property damage.
- Update your insurance adjuster. When you're assigned an insurance adjuster, keep them in the loop during this process.
Make necessary repairs to your property
Your policy may require you to make reasonable repairs right after an incident to protect the property from future damage.
Keep in mind: If you don't make reasonable repairs or minimize the loss, your insurer might deny claims later on because you failed to maintain your property. But communicate with your insurance company and get approval for future projects.
Fill out homeowners claims paperwork on time
Your provider's insurance adjuster will check to make sure you meet any deadlines your policy outlines for submitting paperwork after a loss. You might have to send in:
- A description of the loss.
- An inventory of lost or damaged personal property.
- Specifications for damaged structures.
- Receipts for additional living expenses if you can't live in your house.
Failing to comply with your provider's requests can invalidate your payout. To get the most out of your homeowners insurance claim, make sure you read your policy carefully to understand your responsibilities. If you're unsure how to proceed, consider hiring a public insurance adjuster to help you.