Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Your Homeowners Insurance Claim
Homeowners purchase insurance to protect their greatest investment, with the hope that they never have to use it. However, storms come and accidents happen. When it’s time to submit a home insurance claim, time is of the essence.
There are a handful of common mistakes seen in insurance claims that can result in denied or delayed reimbursement. Avoiding these mistakes can ensure you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
Determine If Filing A Claim Is Necessary
Small home problems may not require you to file a claim. If the cost of replacement or repair is minor, it may be best to handle it on your own. Each claim submitted over a seven-year period is stored in a database referred to as Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). If you file multiple claims, you may be flagged as high risk, which will increase your insurance premiums.
Additionally, depending on your carrier, even one claim can result in an increase in your homeowner’s insurance rates. Consider the cost of repair or replacement and determine if filing a claim is your best course of action.
Know Your Insurance Policy And What Is Covered
Few people read and understand their homeowner’s insurance policy. Take the time to read it and know what items are covered under your policy and what is not before filing a claim.
The CLUE database stores any claims submitted, even those that are denied. Even if an adjuster comes out to view the damage and determines the damage is not covered under your policy, the claim will appear on your history and could cause an increase in coverage rates.
Reach Out to Your Insurance Agent Immediately
Most insurance policies require that incidents be reported to your insurance agent immediately, in a timely manner or as soon as reasonable or possible. Once that window has passed to report a loss in a timely manner, any damage done may no longer be covered by your insurance carrier.
Additionally, your agent is in a position to assist you in filing the claim and expediting its payment. To do that, your carrier may want to view and assess the damage themselves, and the sooner they can do that the better.
Contact The Police When Necessary
If there is an instance where you have been the victim of theft or property damage caused by criminal activity, you should contact the police. A police report may be required to verify the cause of the damage, and any delay in contacting the police or lack of a police report may cast suspicion on your claim and delay reimbursement.
Take Photos And Keep All Documentation
Photographs, videos, and documentation are your allies when filing a claim. As soon as any damage happens or is noticed, begin taking photographs and videos before removing or replacing anything. Get as many photos as possible, from as many angles as possible. If you need to show the scale of anything, find a standard item like a dollar bill or a yardstick to show size.
Keep records of everything. Copies of photographs, quotes, insurance policy, invoices, receipts, and police reports should be kept safe and easily accessible. Airtight documentation will help move your insurance claim through faster and easier.
Meet With The Adjuster Personally
Prepare yourself for the adjuster visit. Consider having your own preferred contractor out to view and assess the damage, and do your own research prior to scheduling the adjuster. When the adjuster arrives, be there to assess the damage with them. This can help ensure they don’t miss crucial details, misunderstand the situation, or overlook any necessary repairs.
Be aware of your conversation with the adjuster. Avoid giving them information or reason to deny your claim. Answer any questions truthfully and honestly but avoid giving out any unnecessary information.
Lastly, never admit fault. Saying something like, “I knew that tree would fall someday!” might result in a denied claim or cause you to have to fight for reimbursement.
Be Prepared For A Fight
Remember that the insurance company is out to make money and is not necessarily looking out for your best interests. The carrier hopes to pay you the least amount of money possible for the damage, and you will be hoping for the highest. Be prepared to stand up for what is rightfully yours and realize that their first offer might not be as much as you had hoped. Never accept a settlement for less than you deserve.
Consider Acquiring Professional Assistance
Some insurance claims are submitted, approved, and reimbursed quickly and painlessly. But unfortunately many are not. If the offered settlement is unsatisfactory, or your insurance company fails to reimburse you for the damage quickly enough, consider contacting a lawyer who can help you dispute the claim and work out a settlement that will cover your expenses. In Florida, your attorneys’ fees and costs will often be the responsibility of the insurance company to pay for its improper underpaying a loss or denying coverage for a loss.
If you are seeking professional assistance with your claim, contact us today to schedule a consultation.