Insurance is something all people purchase, but none of us wish to ever have to use it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as many will testify to. Natural disasters happen, fires get started, accidents occur, property gets damages, people get hurt. And when such tragedies do come to pass, dealing with home insurance claims is something we need to tend to. And so, Attorney at Law Magazine offers you this short yet practical guide into the insurance claim process and how best to approach it.
Should you even file a claim to begin with?
The very first question that you should ask yourself after incurring property damage is: “Do I truly need to file a claim for this?” After all, not all damages to your property will require such drastic legal actions. In fact, crying ‘claim’ for every minor issue can backfire on your insurance premium. This is why there are times when you should and times when you shouldn’t file a claim. And you should, of course, not forget that filing a frivolous or unsupported claim can lead to additional financial expenses, given the legal procedures etc.
Our advice – consult with professionals. Public adjusters such as A-Z Claims Adjusters Florida have experience in such matters. They can estimate the situation for you and advise whether or not a claim is truly the best course of action.
Consider the CLUE before filing home insurance claims
To be better equipped to recognize false claims before them, insurance companies turn to the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or CLUE. In short, this is a database that notes every single claim that you make within a seven-year period. Insurance companies use the frequency and number of claims that an individual makes to determine their home insurance premiums. So, you could easily become an insurance red flag carrier if you decide to file multiple claims within a short time period.
Make sure to go through your insurance policy
As you switch insurance carriers, so can the terms of home insurance claims change. This is why it is important to always read through the policy you have. Pay special attention to the “declarations” page, to determine what the policy covers and what it doesn’t. Here, you can also find the maximum amount of coverage when it comes to your property.
Making any inquiries about home insurance claims can lead to an official mark in your CLUE file. So make sure to keep all your inquiries specified as ‘strictly theoretical’. And make sure to check whether or not your policy covers actual cash value or replacement cost. The difference could be in the thousands.
Make sure to find a reputable contractor
Handling home insurance claims will be much easier with the help of a proper and well-known contractor. Finding the right contractor is similar to hiring a good public adjuster – it is something you should plan for. Search for them before you have need of their services. It’s always better to be prepared in case any damage comes to your property than having to search for them last minute.
Plus, having a regular contractor could help you stay on top of maintenance. And that could lessen the chance of damage to your home in the first place.
Handling home insurance claims may involve the police sometimes
In cases of vandalism or theft, any damage to your property is frowned upon as a consequence of criminal activity. This is why you need to call the police in such situations. Waiting on police reports can slow your claim process. You will want to get a copy of the police report and reach out to the responding office or the department in charge.
Always remember to take pictures of the damage
Documenting the property damage is a vital step in the insurance claims process. So, start taking pictures and documenting the damage as-is. Make sure to capture the damage from as many angles as possible, so as for the photos to be acceptable in court. You can also use video footage to help rule out any potential discrepancies regarding the photos you took.
Be there during the adjuster inspection
Prepare for the talk with the adjuster the insurance company sends. Give them your written statement of the damage and remember to note every detail. When talking with the adjuster, stick to simply answering the questions they ask – nothing more, nothing less. Avoid giving them any information that might lead to a reduction of your claim – admit to no faults and answer all questions politely and truthfully.
Remember – they work for your insurer, which is now your adversary. So make sure to arm yourself with patience and calmness. The home insurance claims process is a long and difficult legal process – one that might take a while.
Always leave a paper trail
Documentation and proper paperwork is the key to winning insurance claims cases. So, make sure to have everything you need:
- Save all email and phone correspondences.
- Keep the receipts for any expenses you incur.
- Make sure that your contractor provides a detailed invoice.
- Never pay for repairs in cash.
- Save receipts for any living expenses while waiting for repairs to be complete.
- Obtain a copy of the police report
Never settle for less than you deserve
Once a claim is settled, you are no longer legally allowed to contest it again. So, make sure to get everything you are owed from that first settlement. And you can be certain that insurance companies will look to make lowball offers to avoid paying out for full claims. This is why you might want to consult with your lawyer before accepting to any settlement deals. Remember – patience can sometimes bring more than you expect. Play the long game and get what you are due.
Outside help can save you a lot of time and energy
Third party public claims adjusters can provide you with a simpler claims process. So, if you want to handle your fire damage insurance claim with ease, consider turning to professional 3rd party companies. They know the law and will make sure that you get your fair share. Of course, they will do this for a percent of your settlement claim – don’t forget that.
Stay persistent until the very end
Do not let the insurance companies tire you out with the claims process. Handling home insurance claims requires patience and perseverance – but it should also be resolved in a timely manner. Make sure to be aware of any deadlines, required forms or other actions. Failing to keep up with your obligations could jeopardize your entire claim. Do not allow the insurer to delay the process – keep pushing until you get your due settlement.