5 Things to Do When Filing a Home Insurance Claim

Your home is a major investment, and your home insurance policy protects it. When your home is damaged, your insurance can help you pay for repairs. Your home insurance policy also offers protection for your belongings and your liability. If your things are damaged or stolen, your policy can help. If someone is injured on your property or you accidentally cause damage to someone else’s property, your policy can help.

In any of these situations, here’s what you need to know about filing a home insurance claim.

Consider Whether It Makes Sense to File a Claim

Insurers keep track of your claims history, including denied claims. The more claims you file, the less likely insurers are to offer insurance in the future and the higher your premiums will be. Because of this process, you don’t want to make too many claims. If it’s a small issue that’s easy and cost-effective to fix, it makes sense just to do it yourself. 

It can seem counterintuitive to not file a claim when you have coverage since that’s what you’re paying for. However, thinking through the consequences of filing a claim on your future needs will help you control your premium costs.

Three questions to ask yourself before filing a claim:

  • Does your policy cover it? Double-check your policy to see if your claim would be covered. Keep in mind that if poor maintenance caused the issue, your claim may be denied.
  • Is the claim higher than your deductible? If you’d have to cover the full costs of the repair anyway because of your deductible, then it doesn’t make sense to file a claim.
  • What kind of claim is it? Some types of claims result in much higher premiums than others. Theft and liability claims are treated very differently from weather claims. While this question may not necessarily be the deciding factor in whether or not you file a claim, it’s important to consider so you’re not surprised at how your premiums change or even if it becomes harder to be approved for an insurance policy.

As you make these considerations, you should make a decision quickly. Insurers have deadlines for claims filing. The longer you delay filing a claim, the higher chance you’ll have of your claim taking longer to process and receiving a lower settlement.

Gather Necessary Documentation

If you’re considering filing a claim, document the damage with photos and list lost or damaged items. Keep receipts if you make temporary repairs or pay for lodging if your home isn’t habitable. This documentation will help the insurer understand the losses when it’s assessing your claim. It will also ensure that you receive an appropriate settlement.

File a police report if necessary. Your insurance company will review the police report if your claim is the result of a crime. Consider the police report part of your documentation. You’ll also need to have your policy information accessible so you can file your claim.

Get Appraisals

As you’re gathering information, get an appraisal. Have a few repair people come by to assess the damage and tell you what repairs will cost. You can also ask a public adjuster to review damage. Get this information in writing in case you need to use it later. Getting these assessments will help you understand the costs, which can help you determine if filing a claim is worth it and be better informed. 

After you file a claim, your insurance provider will send their own claims adjuster to assess the damage before the insurer approves your claim. Claims can result in large payouts, so the insurer needs to be sure that the claim is valid.

Some insurers, like Liberty Mutual, offer virtual adjuster visits. You’ll complete a video call with the adjuster to show them the damage via camera. This offering can make claims processing more convenient.

Prevent Further Damage

Make any temporary repairs you can to prevent damage from worsening or from happening again. Doing so can help keep repair costs from increasing.

Complete Repairs

Once your claim is approved, you may have a certain amount of time to complete repairs. Pay attention to these timelines and complete repairs within them.

Home insurance is a valuable way to protect your home and your finances. Considering the costs and benefits of filing a claim will help you keep your premiums in check. Gathering and keeping documentation will allow the insurer to assess the damage and make a decision on your claim.

Although the claims process takes time, it can help ensure that your home is taken care of and your finances remain stable.

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