What do I need to know about filing a homeowners insurance claim?
No homeowner ever wants to deal with homeowners’ insurance and claims because that would mean that something has happened. A claim may make your insurance rate increase or possibly the insurance company may cancel your policy. So, a homeowner will decide if it is worth filing a house insurance claim or not, or maybe pay for whatever the issue is out of pocket.
Your home has been damaged by high winds and violent storms. Or perhaps a visitor fell off your porch. Maybe you were robbed. These and other types of unfortunate events strike, then you should feel confident that when you file home insurance claims, you will be taken care of by your insurance company. So, do you know how to file a claim and what to expect once you do?
Your homeowner’s insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. There are many home insurance claims do’s and don’ts you should know so you aren’t left holding the bag (or holding your wallet open). Before disaster strikes, you should review your homeowner’s insurance policy, so you have a general idea of what it covers and what isn’t and who is responsible for what.
Here, we have a few steps that are recommended by those in the insurance industry for a starting point.
- If it’s a crime, file a police report. If your home has been robbed or vandalized, your first call should to the local law enforcement. Get the name and badge number of any officer that shows up and request a copy of the report. These are details that your insurance company will require. or burglarized, report it to the police. Get a police report and the names of all law enforcement officers that you speak with as you may need to provide the details of the event to your insurer.
- Complete all claim forms promptly. Once you have contacted your insurance company, they will ask questions and possibly send you claim forms. Law requires them to send these to you within a time frame. The more complete you fill them out and the faster you send them back, the faster your claim will get settled and the faster you’ll get your house insurance claim check, which insurance companies are required by law to send immediately after the claim has been approved by them and accepted by you.
- If you must relocate, keep all receipts. If you cannot stay in your home because of damage, save all receipts and note on each one what the receipt was for. Thorough record-keeping will support your home insurance claims.
- Ask questions. Never hesitate to ask your agent, the insurance company claims department, or the insurance adjuster questions. If you don’t feel you’re getting the right response and treatment from your insurance company, call the state insurance board.
- Call your insurance company next. Explain the situation and ask if you’re covered, how long can you file your claim after the incident, and what is your deductible? Ask how long it takes a claim to process home insurance claims, and will they send somebody out to get an estimate for repair or do you get that yourself? How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to get estimates for repairs to structural damage?
- Prepare for the insurance adjuster. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to come and inspect the damage or situation. This is a representative of your insurance company that is sent to inspect the situation and interview you. They then will make the determination how much the insurance company should pay for repairs or replacement. Get prepared for their visit and show them all the structural damage and a list of items that were damaged.
- Temporarily make repairs. Before you do make repairs, take pictures and/or a videotape of the damage, and make a list of everything. Then make reasonable and temporary steps that will protect your property from more damage. Throw nothing away until after the adjuster has been there and save all receipts for items you’ve purchased for repairs and survival.
Do I have a right to a second opinion?
Yes! For whatever reason, they feel obligated to take the insurance company adjuster’s word and accept the payment. The insurance company isn’t the only one that can have an adjuster look at your property, you can hire your own for a second opinion. There are independent insurance adjusters that work home insurance claims they have experience in the industry and know the ropes.
Why is it important to get a second opinion?
You’ve been loyal making your homeowner’s insurance payments, so you’d like to believe that when the time comes that you have to file any home insurance claims, they would be as loyal and prompt to you, right? Well, guess what?
Insurance companies are a business and like any business, they are cutting expenses where they can, and the bulk of their expenses come are paying home insurance claims. So, their adjuster they send out will look for the least expensive way for them to settle. Remember, your claim isn’t the only one they have coming in, especially if the weather has been bad with storms and winds.
When their offer to settle your home insurance claims isn’t acceptable to you, getting a second opinion is smart. That opinion may not be as much, or they may agree with the first one. But then there is always the chance they find in your favor too.
How do second opinions work?
If home insurance claims are denied, or the homeowner doesn’t feel the offer is fair, they may dispute the findings. Sometimes, you can simply provide documentation and pictures, and the company will review and revise its offer. Other times, it is more complicated and requires an outside adjuster to review the case.
The following are steps that you should follow to have your home insurance claims reviewed for a 2nd opinion on insurance claim:
- Review and know your policy.
- Ask for an explanation of why your claim was denied or was less than expected.
- Have your documents and pictures collected together.
- Request an independent second appraisal by a person familiar with home insurance claims.
- Be sure your home shows that you have all the paperwork and receipts where you have done everything a responsible homeowner should.
- File a home insurance claims appeal.
- File a home insurance claims complaint if the appeal wasn’t successful.
Does insurance pay for 2nd opinions?
No, when home insurance claims settlements are offered to the homeowner and they are not happy with the offer, or they denied the claim, the homeowner pays for a second opinion. This is something to keep in mind, that is money out of your pocket that may or may not get you more money. This is often one reason homeowners accept what their insurance company offers.
Your home is an important investment to you and your mortgage company. You’ve paid into your homeowners’ insurance and it should take care of you as you intended. However, if they don’t handle your home insurance claims as you think they should be, you may have it reviewed again. Always read your policy when you first get it and ask questions then, so you know what you have and what you won’t have. Dial 833-312-5246 today for your 2nd opinion on your home insurance claim in Indianapolis, IN.