Oklahoma was recently struck by a series of destructive ice storms. As residents of the state get their first look at damage caused by the storm, many of them are wondering if their property insurer will pay for the damage. Different insurance policies may have slightly different procedures for filing claims and proving damages, but certain steps can increase the likelihood that the claim will be paid as it was submitted.
The first step is to photographically record as much of the damage as possible. With the prevalence of digital cameras and digital video recorders, making such a record should not be difficult. Policy holders who do not own such equipment should either rent or borrow a camera to make the necessary record. A second step is repairing as much of the damage as possible after taking photographs. Depending on the nature and extent of the damage, the policy holder may wish to have the insurer make both preliminary and permanent repairs.
If the homeowner makes the first repairs (or hires a contractor to do so), all invoices and receipts for this work should be preserved in a safe location, such as a safe deposit box.
An obvious third step is reporting the damage to the property insurer. The first report can be made verbally, but eventually the home owner will be required to file a written claim with appropriate documentation. In filing the claim, especially under the stress of seeing severe damage to one’s home, it can be easy to omit crucial details. Preparing a written inventory of the damage may sound tedious, but do so is an important step in ensuring that the claim is complete and sufficiently detailed.
Read the policy
Reading the terms of the insurance policy may seem too obvious for words, but the provisions that cover property damage can provide important guides about what kinds of the damage are covered and how much the insurer is legally obligated to pay.
Some insurers will pay some claims in full without much dispute. In other cases, an insurer may attempt to deny an entire claim. Anyone who believes that their damage claim has been mishandled or improperly denied should retain an attorney who is experienced in handling insurance claims. A capable lawyer can evaluate the damage, deal with the adjuster and negotiate with the claim handler over making a prompt and full payment of the claim.