UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020
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In order for your renters insurance policy to be effective, you will have to document the damages and costs for your claim. Make sure that the damage is covered by your policy, keep an up to date home inventory, and take pictures. If there are witnesses or security video available, you will need to make sure that you get statements and a way to request the digital data. You may also be covered by a loss of use clause that will reimburse you for any covered expenses.
Understand Your Policy
A big mistake is to assume that flood insurance and water damage are the same thing. In truth, water damage might be caused by a broken pipe but it would require flood insurance to cover water rising above the local stream banks. It is important to have coverage for all major perils, including fire,
riots and storm, but you still have to pick up specialty coverage for major disasters such as earthquakes or floods.
Make a Video Home Inventory
Using a video camera, move from room to room and make a video of everything you own to create a home inventory. This includes clothing, jewelry, furniture and any appliances that belong to you. This is your ultimate proof of what you own, and should represent the brand and include a copy of the receipts. When you have to file a claim, the most recent home inventory on record can be compared to identify broken or missing property.
Pictures and Video
Take pictures or video of the damages. If a tree fell on the home, try to show how the tree is responsible for damages specific to you. Remember, renters insurance does not cover the dwelling, but it does include any of your property that was damaged by a covered event. The better you can document the damages, the easier it will be to settle your claim.
Receipts and Official Reports
Keep track of the receipts and reports. If a police report was filed, you should get a copy of it. This report is important to a successful claim. You will also need to have copies of any emergency or medical care that was required. If you miss a bill on the claim, then you could end up paying for it out of pocket. Keeping up with your receipts will help you avoid this problem.
Loss of Use
If you are not able to enjoy your accustomed way of life because of the damages, you may have a loss of use clause in your policy to help you with the costs. An example of loss of use is having to rent a motel room or temporary apartment, going to the coin laundry, or having to dine out when you should be able to eat at home.