Not every instance of damage or injury merits filing a claim with your insurance carrier, but when things get serious, you’ll want to get serious about making sure you follow the proper protocols if you hope to get paid promptly.
Here are 6 things to keep in mind.
1. Check your deductible. You’ll definitely want to file a claim for incidents that would cost you significantly more than your deductible. What does “significantly” mean? Well, that varies from individual to individual. But, for example, if you have a $1,000 deductible and you have $5,000 in damage, filing a claim may make good sense. What about losses that amount to $1,200? Well, there again, perhaps paying out of pocket makes most sense, because carriers will often raise your premium and your loss history can make finding new coverage tougher.
2. File promptly. You typically cannot file a claim years after the event. The time limit for filing a homeowners insurance claim varies from company to company and state to state, but most policies will expect you to file as promptly as possible. So if you’ve decided to report a claim, then by all means, pick up the phone to the carrier.
3. Inventory the damage or loss. Once you’ve made the decision to make that call, your insurer will assign an adjuster to come out and assess the damage. Until they do, take pictures of the damage and create an inventory of any personal possessions that were lost. If you can dig up receipts or pictures of the missing items, that will help.
Along those lines, be sure you’re open and honest with the insurer and give them as much information as possible.
One more point on inventory-taking: don’t wait for disaster to strike. Put your smartphone to work and take some photos and shoot some video of your home and store the file in the cloud. It’ll save you lots of hassles down the road.
4. Get estimates. If structural repairs are needed, invite several contractors to come out and give you estimates of what it’ll take to put things back in order. There’s no need to go with the least-expensive, either. Everyone – including the carrier – wants to put things back as they were. That said, don’t expect your carrier to make your home into the palace it never was. In any case, while you’re waiting for repair work to begin, try to protect your property from further damage. And save the receipts for tarps or anything else you might need to buy to keep the rain out.
5. File a police report. Whether you file a claim or not, it’s a good idea to report a break-in to the authorities so that, should the bad guys get caught, you may be able to recover any stolen items.
6. Keep all receipts. When Mother Nature really does a number of your home, you’ll most likely need temporary housing. That’ll be covered under most homeowners policies, but be sure to keep all of those receipts for a hotel and additional living expenses. You’ll need to provide proof of the costs if you expect to be reimbursed.
If you have more questions about filing a claim, we’re here to be your advocate. Connect with us today and we can help guide you through the process.
Matt Genova is the president of CCIG’s Personal Lines department. Reach him at Matt.Genova@thinkccig.com or 720-330-7936.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.
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