8 Ways to Make Home Insurance Claims Stress Free
Homeowners property damage insurance claims can take a toll on a family. These type of claims can displace your family and destroy everything you own. They can be incredibly stressful, drawn out and usually a frustrating process, but can be made much easier with the proper assistance.
It always seems like the insurance company has all the power through the entire process. The insurance policy documents are complex and written in 'legalese.' Nonetheless, it is important that you understand what those documents say so that you don't misspeak or mischaracterize the loss and get blindsided by a terrible clause in the policy that ends up disqualifying coverage for your loss.
Here are 8 things that you can do to keep control of your insurance claim experience. With a little bit of planning and knowledge, you can save yourself a lot of hassle.
- Safety should be first and foremost on everyone’s mind! The first thing you need to do is make sure you, your family, pets and others stay out of harm’s way. Once conditions are safe, the best thing you can do is get a professional contractor specializing in insurance work to secure the property and prevent the damage from getting any worse. This is called mitigating your loss. All insurance companies place a duty on the insured to “mitigate” (minimize) further damage.
- Immediately contact your insurance company or insurance agent to report the loss. Most likely they will ask questions and take a brief report when they first speak with you. Its always best to try to keep this conversation as general and brief as possible. Your choice of words at the beginning may be used against you later to deny your claim. Be an information taker as much as possible. Ask what steps you can take to minimize the damage, your claim number, when you can expect an adjuster to come out and coverage for any special needs you may have like housing.
- Don’t be pressured into signing on with a public adjuster to handle your claim. Public adjusters come out in droves when a major loss first occurs and prey on people when they are at their weakest. They look to represent homeowners against the insurance company. Public adjusters do provide services that may be helpful in getting a homeowner a better settlement than they might otherwise get on their own. However, they also charge a hefty percentage of the settlement received on the claim and their fees are not reimbursed by your insurance company. These fees come right off the top of any settlement you receive. This reduction in your settlement will reduce the amount of money you have available to make needed repairs and may even prevent you from completing repairs.
- Know what your insurance policy covers. Get your insurance policy. If you can’t find it contact your insurance agent and request a copy. The quickest and simplest way to obtain it today is to have your insurance agent email the policy to you or your representative. The policy will list the specific types of losses and items that are covered. Read these closely. It is by understanding the details of what your insurance covers that will empower you to know when your insurance company should be covering an incident. Learn what to expect in temporary housing if needed - Your policy will tell you how much you will get for temporary housing and food. You might find that you can only stay in a terrible motel and eat ramen. Chances are you can pay a tiny bit more for better housing, but you should at least know what you are up against.
- Know what your insurance doesn't cover - Reading the exclusions to your insurance coverage is as important as knowing what is included. Every policy has exclusions. Read through these closely so that you can be sure that you know what is not covered.
- Be careful what you say! Wording is so important – insurance policies use very specific words to narrow your coverage and ultimately their exposure to certain types of claims. Most times these policies define the various terms. For example, flooding, seepage and water damage are completely different types of claims. Homeowners policies typically exclude damages from water seepage or tidal flooding, but do cover water damage from a leaky roof, broken pipe or extinguishment of fire. If you’re in an area prone to floods you will need a separate policy for flood insurance.
- Be careful when you clean up or hire someone to clean up. Insurance companies usually won’t pay for your time and hard work to do the clean-up yourself, but will gladly pay for emergency services contractor you hire to clean up and mitigate damages. Don't start cleaning or allow anyone to start touching anything until you or your contractor take extensive pictures of the damages and document everything, so the insurance company’s representative sees everything exactly as it was when the incident happened. Make a detailed list and take pictures of all your possessions that were damaged. Keep any damaged items on hand until the insurance adjuster has an opportunity to see them and tells you what can be thrown out for garbage.
- Document anyone else that is involved - If anyone else touches anything, you need to make a record of it. Write down who they are, what they did, and why. This will let the insurance adjuster see if someone else damaged something. For example, if the fire department comes in and tears out walls, you will want to let the insurance adjuster know who did it and when.
These are only a few of the things that you should know about your homeowner's insurance, but can save you a lot of stress in a chaotic time. Taking the time to understand certain parts of your coverage will eliminate added problems before contacting a professional.
LA Design & Construction specializes in helping home and business owners through tough times with insurance claims. We have been featured as a trusted advisor in the industry (Read The Article).