Nobody wants to have to file a homeowner’s insurance claim. After all, filing a claim means that something has gone horribly wrong at home. Maybe it’s damage from a storm, or a frozen pipe that burst, or some other unexpected problem. Whatever the cause, the damage was severe enough that you need to make a claim on the policy that up until now you’d hoped would never actually have to be used.
Exactly what’s involved with filing a homeowner’s insurance claim, though? While the filing process is similar to that with other forms of insurance, there are a few things about homeowner’s insurance that might seem confusing if you’ve never really dealt with it before. To make sure that everything goes smoothly, here’s some advice on what to expect when filing a homeowner’s insurance claim.
Contacting the Insurance Company
The first thing that you need to do to file a homeowner’s insurance claim is to contact your insurance company. This doesn’t mean that you should drop everything and call your insurance, though. Depending on the situation, there may be a few other things that your insurance company tells you to do before they can actually start working on a claim, so you may want to at least get them started first.
If your claim involves burglary, criminal damage to your property, or any other legal matter, you’re likely going to want to go ahead and call the police, because your insurance company will require a police report. You’ll also want to shut off the water or gas if necessary and take any other actions that are required to make your home safe. Take pictures (ideally with timestamps on) before you take any action, so that you can show the insurance company what the situation looked like before your intervention, then take additional pictures once you’ve shut things down. This documentation will be important to your claim once it gets started.
The Claims Process
Once you contact your insurance company, you’ll need to go through the specifics of what happened in as much detail as you can provide. If you had to shut off the water or take any other action, be sure to describe exactly what you did and let them know that you have before and after pictures as well. Point out any safety concerns such as broken windows that need to be boarded up, or any other safety-related repairs that might need to be made, so that your insurance agent can make note of them before you take any additional action. Be sure to take before and after photos of those repairs as well.
After your initial call, and any temporary repairs or changes that your agent approved have been made, you’re going to have to fill out some paperwork and take additional pictures and videos to document everything you can about the claim. The insurance company will likely send someone out to inspect your home in person as well, and you may have to go over all of these details again with them. Make copies of all your pictures and videos, and save every receipt related to the incident, including both any materials that were needed for temporary repairs, and things like hotel receipts if the house isn’t safe to stay in until repairs are complete. It may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, but once the company approves your claim, you’ll be glad that you documented everything.
When your claim is finally approved, you’re going to need someone to make the repairs that your home needs. While your insurance company may have some suggestions, in many cases you’ll be free to choose your own contractors and other pros that will work with your insurance company throughout the repair process.