Documenting Damage for Homeowners Insurance Claims

Documenting the damage of home insurance claims involves getting multiple estimates, providing receipts and other proof of ownership, showing the insurance company that the damaged items were in your home inventory, and keeping a record of loss of use costs, including hotel stays. Scroll down to learn top tips on how to document damage for home insurance claims.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Nov 22, 2020

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If you have to file a claim on your homeowners insurance policy, it will help you considerably if you provide enough documentation to back up your claim. Documenting the damage for your home insurance company includes having multiple estimates, providing receipts and other proof of ownership, showing the insurance company that the damaged items were in your home inventory, and documenting the total amount you claim for loss of use.

Emergency Repairs

Even before you start the process of filing a homeowners insurance claim, take immediate steps to prevent the damage from getting worse. Emergency repairs include covering a hole in the roof, boarding over damaged doors and windows, and take any additional steps that are needed to prevent the damage from getting worse. Failure to perform emergency repairs could result in your claim being denied or reduced.

Get Estimates

Get repair estimates from 2 or 3 different contractors. Even if you are planning to do the repairs yourself, these estimates will be used to determine the amount of the claim. Most insurance companies will send out an adjuster to make their own estimates, but this does not mean you have to accept the estimate given by the adjuster.

Include Receipts

If you have the original receipts for items that are damaged, include copies of them with your insurance claim. Being able to document when you bought the item and what you paid for it will help you get the claim settled faster. Because these receipts are so important, it is a good idea to keep them in a safe place such as a home safe or a safe deposit box at a financial institution.

Home Inventories

When you buy homeowners insurance, and anytime you make a substantial purpose, you need to make a home inventory. This might include a written list, but the best type of home inventory is a video recording. Move from room to room recording every item that belongs to you, from your appliances to your wardrobe. Don’t forget things that are outside of the
dwelling such as toys, lawn equipment, sporting goods or items stored in another structure on the property.

Loss of Use Claims

If you are not able to use some or all of the dwelling and other structures, you can claim the costs related to that loss of use on your homeowners filing. Be sure to provide receipts and document what each one was for. Loss of use might include renting a hotel room, using a Laundromat, or dining out at restaurants, among other things

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