Homeowners Insurance Claims Process Explained Tips

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How do I get my claim money?

How You Get Your Claim Money

So if there is damage done to your home and personal belongings, how do you get the money from your home insurance claim? Well, you may actually get more than one check. In most cases, an adjuster will assess the damage and then your provider will offer you a settlement. If you accept, what you will receive initially is more than likely going to be an advance on the overall settlement, not the entire amount you will receive. Don't worry, the rest is coming. That will be the next check as the claim is processed.

If you had personal belongings damaged or lost in addition to the structure of your house, you will receive separate checks for the building and the possessions. You may also be entitled to receive a third check for any additional living expenses incurred as a result of the damages and renovations being conducted. Make sure to keep receipts of hotel bills, clothing or any other items you may need to purchase during that time. Submit these to the insurance company promptly so you can be reimbursed quickly.

If you miss something the first time around, like damage that was not initially notice by the adjuster, contact your insurance provider about filing for additional money to take care of those issues. Make sure to do this quickly, though. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of setbacks becomes.

   
What is a public adjuster?

Public Adjusters

Sometimes, in the cases of a dispute over a claim, people choose to use a public adjuster. This person has no affiliation with your insurance company. They will help to assess damages and losses suffered by you after an earthquake or other disaster, for example.

Public adjusters will charge a fee, usually a percentage of the total settlement. The fees charged will vary from person to person, however the state government will usually regulate the fee they are allowed to charge victims of a natural disaster immediately following the event.

If you choose to use a public adjuster during the claims process, do your homework. You don't want to just pick one out of the phone book or the first Web site you come across. Contact your state's Department of Insurance for a list of qualified public adjusters. An unqualified individual will only slow down the insurance claims process and cost you time and money.

   
What should I do when a claim is the result of a crime?

Claims Resulting From Crimes

If there is ever a crime committed that results in the damaging or loss of your property, contact the police and file a report immediately. Do not wait. Insurance issues are often time-sensitive. The insurance company will want to speak with the police, and you should ask for a copy of the officer's report as well.

Make sure to take pictures of any damage that resulted from the commission of the crime and give this to your provider when filing a home insurance claim. Do not throw away any damaged or broken property either. Your insurance company may send an adjuster out to see the extent of the damage.

A good rule of thumb is never throw away damaged property until it is replaced, unless it poses some sort of danger to you or others. That way you have evidence of the loss to provide insurers, police and any other relevant parties.

   
Do you know what your provider's claim guidelines are?

Company-Specific Claims Guidelines

When you buy homeowner's insurance, make sure that you fully understand the claims process and the specific guidelines of the company. Each insurer will have their own way of doing things. While some aspects of the claims process are uniform from company to company, others might be left to the provider's discretion.

Have the agent you are dealing with provide you with the contact information for filing a home insurance claim. They should also provide you with the company's guidelines for filing. This will include the timeframe you must file within, paperwork to be completed and other documentation needed.

The more you know about the claims process from your provider beforehand, the less stressful you will find things if and when the time comes to make a claim. The last thing you want after your home is damaged by fire or burglarized is to spend hours fumbling through information trying to figure out whom you should be talking to and what you need to do.

   
Should I take photos of valuables and renovations in my house?

Pictures Are Worth 1,000 Words

Saving and maintaining receipts and other documentation for insurance purposes is a smart practice. But there is one other step you should take to make sure all your bases are covered. Any time that you make renovations to your home or purchase valuables that will be insured, take pictures.

These pictures will serve as a photographic documentation of the exact condition and nature of the remodeled portions of your houses and personal possessions. If your home is burglarized, these pictures can be used by law enforcement officials to identify any stolen property that may be recovered.

Photographs can be a big help to police in the event a crime is committed and they can help your home insurance claim be processed faster. Keep these photographs stored with your receipts and other documentation, in either a safe deposit box or a fireproof box in your home. It is also a good idea to back up digital photos on disc or the hard drive of your computer as well.

   
How do you handle claim disputes?

Handling Claim Disputes

If you are deep in the home insurance claims process and feel that your policy is not being honored or there are mistakes being made, don't wait until the last minute to raise these concerns. Contact the claims manager of your insurance company and explain what the problem is. See if you can get it resolved quickly and easily. Often it is just a matter of miscommunication.

If after speaking with the claims manager, you are still not satisfied, you can always contact your state's Department of Insurance. Since insurance is a regulated industry, each state has a department specifically designed to deal with these issues. They are a resource that most people overlook, but they can be very helpful.

The Department of Insurance should be able to work with you and your provider to resolve any issues you may have and get the claims process moving once again in a manner that works for all parties involved.

   
What should you do for insurance purposes after your home is hit by a natural disaster?

Claims After Natural Disaster

If you have lived through a hurricane, earthquake or other disaster, you know that it can be a nerve-racking time. However, the best thing you can do is keep a level head and assess the situation as soon as possible. Survey your home and see what damage there is that needs to be repaired.

Once you know what needs to be fixed or replaced, take photos and document the extent of the damage. Make any temporary repairs necessary and keep receipts from any expenses incurred in the process. Provide your homeowner's insurance company with the photos, detailed explanations of the damage, and the repairs needed. Include the receipts from the temporary repairs made to be reimbursed for those as well.

The sooner you notify your provider of the situation, the sooner they can take action to get your home back in top shape. Natural disasters like earthquakes affect large numbers of people, so the odds are good that you won't be the only one in your area filing a homeowner's insurance claim. So you want to try and get the ball rolling with your insurance company before they get swamped with other claims in your area.

   
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