After the storm you notice some water on your kitchen floor. You look up....and there dripping from the ceiling is water. Your stomach drops, there was a big storm the night before and you think you even heard hail. You even pulled down some limbs from the roof. You think to yourself "great, what do I do now?" Luckily for you, navigating the claims process for your home insurance is pretty foreign to most people. It is just not something most people have to deal with regularly. To help you through we have put together a simple guide to help you figure out how to take the right steps and what to expect.
These tips apply not just to homeowners policies but to dwelling fire, tenant, condo or even commercial property policies.
- Take whatever measures are necessary to prevent further damage. This could be as simple as putting a tarp over a leak in a roof or calling a plumber to stop flowing water from a pipe. Do this right away to stop whatever is causing the damage immediately.
- As an extension of step one whether you hired someone or took this step on your own be sure to take pictures of all the damage, and keep receipts of all goods and services purchased to prevent further damage. If household items were removed keep them so an adjuster can see them later.
- Call us and file a claim. You can reach out directly to your insurance carrier or if you have questions call us, we can guide you through the steps.
- Get an estimate for the damage from a licensed contractor (two is even better), that way you have an estimate for the adjuster before they even come to the home.
- Answer your phone! This one is important, we often choose to ignore numbers we don't know due to the prevalence of Spam but the adjuster may call from an unknown or blocked number so please answer your phone or check your voicemail regularly and get back to them as soon as possible.
- Schedule the adjuster to come view the damage, the sooner the better
- The adjuster may take a few days up to two weeks to completely asses the damage and come back with an estimate of claim payment. If your home is damage beyond repair or you can't live in while it is damaged the adjuster does have the authority to issue you an immediate payment for additional living expenses to move out permanently or temporarily while they adjust the claim. (coverage limitations apply).
- Review your claims assessment when it comes in, be sure to keep checking your email. Adjusters will usually email you the assessment prior to sending a check so you can ask questions. Give us a call to help interpret your assessment. This is where you will see your deductible applied.
- Obtain the claim check and start making repairs. Most policies have a replacement cost clause which means to obtain the full payment you need to make the repairs. Contractors know this and should provide you a final invoice that can be sent to the adjuster for any additional funds.
Some general misnomers about insurance claims are as follows:
- Your insurance company will not directly repair your home, you need to find a contractor to do it for you
- You do not have to pay your deductible upfront, that will be calculated into your pay out. For example if your damage is about $10,000 and your deductible is $2000, the insurance company will send you a check for $8000.
- You need a lawyer or a public adjuster to help you through the claims process. Lawyer and Public adjusters are only necessary in the case of litigation or dispute and they cost you money that the insurance company won't pay.
The most important thing about filing a claim is to try not to panic. We are here to help you navigate this process and will do our best to make it painless as possible.