How to File a Home Insurance Claim

Home insurance is a great investment that can help protect you from property damage, burglary, and more. Your insurance provider probably informed you of your coverages when you signed up for your policy, but likely didn’t explain how to file a claim when the time comes. The following are the steps you should take when you need to file a home insurance claim.

File a police report if needed

If a crime was involved, you should file a police report before calling your insurance agent. If an act of vandalism or theft occurred, your insurance company may require a police report. Even if it doesn’t, giving a copy of the police report to your insurance company will go a long way toward supporting your claim. “Make sure to write down the names of any police department personnel you speak with or who come to inspect your property,” advises Jim Travers, contributor for U.S. News & World Report.

Call your insurance provider

You should contact your insurer as quickly as possible (after filing a police report, if needed) when you experience a loss covered in your policy. According to Bankrate insurance contributor Lena Borrelli, “experts generally recommend that you file a claim quickly, as it could impact how smoothly the process goes.” This is the best time to ask any questions that you may have. For example: Are you covered? How long do you have to file a claim? Will the claim exceed your deductible? (If not, you may not want to file.) How long will it take to process the claim?

After you have called your insurance provider, it will send you the necessary claims documents as well as arrange for an adjuster to come inspect your home, evaluate the damages, and interview you.

Document everything

Before the adjuster arrives and you get the claim forms to fill out, you’ll have some time to document the damage to your property. Your insurer will likely require video and photographic evidence when you file — but even if it does not, any evidence you can document will help support your claim. Documentation can make the process move more quickly or help you appeal if your insurance company gives you a lower payout than expected. If you need to make temporary repairs or find new living accommodations while repairs are being made, keep all receipts and records of additional expenses.

“You’re going to need to substantiate your loss, so make a list of destroyed or damaged items, then make a copy of the list for your adjuster,” adds the Insurance Information Institute. Having documentation ready for the adjuster can further strengthen your claim and quicken the process. One of the steps you can take to smooth the whole process is to maintain a detailed home inventory of your possessions ahead of time. This will make it easier for you to compile a list of your damaged or stolen items.

Fill out the claim forms

The III says that by law, your insurer is required to send you the necessary claims documents “within a specified time period.” Likewise, you should strive to fill out these claims and return them as quickly as possible to avoid delays. While filing your claims, you will be asked to provide personal information such as your name and date of birth, your insurance policy number, the date of the incident, the location and cause of the loss, and the estimated loss amount. This is when you should submit your photo and video evidence of the damage.

Once you have filed your claim, the time it takes for you to receive your payout depends on several factors, such as the type and size of the claim, how quickly you contacted your insurer and filed the claim, and how quickly it was accepted or denied. Though most states require insurers to make a decision within a specified time frame, that time frame can be quite generous. Make sure to file quickly and document your possessions and losses thoroughly to avoid having to wait a long time for reimbursement.

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