Your home is likely your largest investment and insurance is expected to help you if it is damaged or if there are other losses. But filing a property insurance claim can be complicated and your chances for a successful claim improve when you know how coverage works and when to file a claim.
Most policies typically cover:
- Theft and vandalism of your home and belongings.
- Hail and wind. Additional coverage may be needed in high-risk areas.
- Explosion damage from the initial blast.
- Falling objects like satellites, asteroids, meteors, and space debris.
- Flooding which usually requires different coverage than water damage.
- Additional coverage may be needed for flooding and other damages that are usually not covered in standard policies.
Protection may depend on the type of coverage and providers. Water damage, for example, can be complicated and has certain coverage restrictions.
Contact your insurer as soon as possible and verify whether the loss is covered. Find out about the policy limits and deductibles.
Next, fill out the claims form. Generally, the insurance company may send emergency mitigation based upon this information.
A claims adjuster will inspect the property. The homeowner should be at the inspection before damage estimates are written up. The inspector’s only source of information will be the homeowner’s paperwork after the inspection.
Until the damage is repaired, it is important to minimize damage. Keeping the property tidy, board up shattered windows and cover holes with tarp. Keep receipts and other documents if basic repairs are made.
Schedule an appointment with the insurance adjustor next. Having your contractor attend this inspection is recommended. Make a list of damaged items and consider asking for an opinion from an independent appraiser.
After the appraisal, it may take time for the claim payout checks. These may be issued through multiple payments which allow work in stages for temporary repairs, replacing belongings and completing permanent repairs. Most policies pay for other expenses such as living in a hotel or eating out during repairs.
These tips may increase the odds of a successful claim:
- Keeping an ongoing home inventory of belongings with a brief description, its purchase date, and its value.
- Keep evidence revealing damage.
- Store the inventory list in a protected place away from home.
- Track belongings and store photographic evidence through mobile apps.
- Take photographs of the incident damage.
Insurance companies will issue a letter if your claim is denied. It may be difficult to dispute if it was not a named peril.
If the damage should be covered, you may file a formal appeal within a specified time. An attorney can inform you of your rights and help fight claim denials.