Every year, homeowners have to file insurance claims for property damages. It seems like that these instances are becoming more frequent, as stronger storms devastate areas across the country.
Whether it’s Hurricane Dorian terrorizing the Southeast and Bahamas, or tornados in Sioux Falls, properties are seeing a lot of damage. That’s not including things like fires or leaks that can happen in the home.
If you know that you have to file an insurance claim, you want to be able to recoup damages. Want to know how to get the most out of your home insurance claim?
Read on to find out.
1. Document Everything
Your first step in filing an insurance claim is to provide proof to the insurance company that the damages occurred.
You’ll need to provide documentation about the damages. Photographic evidence is a good thing to have. You can also take a video of the damages, too.
Keep a record of the items that were damaged, how much you paid for them, and the cost to replace them.
2. Don’t Wait to Report Damage
The longer you wait to report the damages to your home, the harder it will be to prove that the damage was caused by a particular incident.
If a major storm passes through the area and you have damage to your property, you can’t wait three weeks to file a claim. The insurance company will reject the claim because you won’t be able to prove that the damage was caused by the storm.
3. Use a Public Adjuster
For large claims, it will be a wise move to hire a private adjuster. Insurance companies will send an adjuster to your home, but they are paid by the insurance company.
There are two types of adjusters that the insurance company may send. One is a company adjuster. They’re an employee of the insurance company.
The other is an independent adjuster. Don’t be fooled by the name. They may not be that independent. They’re like a freelancer who is contracted by the insurance company.
A public adjuster is a professional adjuster who works for you. You have to hire them and pay out of pocket for their services, but they can protect your interests in the process.
4. Know Your Rights to Appeal
There’s a good chance that you’ll get less than the full value of items or your claims may be denied altogether.
If you think that your claims were wrongfully denied, you may be able to appeal those denials. Your policy may already have an appeals process to get the insurance company to review the claim again.
5. Get an Attorney Involved
Insurance companies may try to do everything they can to get out of paying for a claim. You may want to give up at the end of the day because you’re tired of dealing with them.
If your claim is denied for something like storm damage and you can’t get the insurance company to budge, get an attorney involved.
6. Don’t Discard Anything (Yet)
One of the first things you’re likely to do after a flood or water damage is to get rid of things that got wet. You don’t want to keep them in your home because of the threat of mold.
You don’t want to throw away those things because your insurance company may need to see them first. Check with the company before you throw anything out.
7. Keep Your Insurance Policy Up to Date
How to get the most out of your home insurance claim lies with really one thing. Your insurance policy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that don’t fully understand what their policy covers and doesn’t cover.
About 73% of people don’t have separate flood coverage from their homeowner’s insurance policy. That can be devastating, especially after a big, damaging storm.
On top of that, about 40% don’t know if insurance will cover all of their belongings. In other words, you need to do your homework and learn what your policy covers and doesn’t cover. Be sure to read your policy and understand the details. Most importantly, get those answers in writing to cover your tracks.
You may find that your property isn’t covered for roof leaks and water damage.
It’s also your responsibility to update your policy if there are any life changes. If you get married or divorced, or start a home-based business, you need to update your policy.
It can be easy to forget that you bought a new furniture set or remodeled the bathroom. Those things can impact your ability to get the most out of your insurance claim. These need to be added onto your policy to make sure they’re covered.
It’s best to review your homeowner’s policy once a year with your insurance agent to make sure that you are getting the coverage you need.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Insurance Claim
Filing an insurance claim can sometimes feel like you’re wrestling a bear. It seems impossible to get the resolution you need to move on with your life after a traumatic event like a fire or flood.
You have to know how to get the most out of your home insurance claim to make the best out of a devastating situation. Insurance companies are likely to find reasons to reject your claims.
Your best defense is offense. You have to know and understand what your policy covers. You also have to make sure that you document everything and don’t throw anything away until you have an adjuster look at it. You may need to get your own adjuster or an attorney involved in the matter.
The more you know about your rights, the better off you’ll be. If you need legal help with your insurance claim, take a look at our directory to find an attorney who can help you.