Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim
If you have to make a claim against your home insurance, it will be in your best interest to be prepared. The actual filing process involves little more than a phone call, but you will have a better chance of settling the claim successfully if you keep some simple insurance information in mind when doing so.
Read your policy carefully. If there are exclusions that may pertain to the damages, find out what they are and how much impact they are going to have. If you are not clear about parts of the policy, call your insurance company for clarification before you have to file a claim so that you can avoid unpleasant surprises when the time comes.
Keep your home inventory up to date. A home inventory is a list of all of your possessions in the home and on the property. The best way to make a home inventory is to use a video camera and move from room to room, identifying each item for the camera as you give its value. Keep your receipts in order to verify the cost of items that are lost or destroyed.
Make any temporary repairs needed to prevent additional damages. It is important that you make these repairs because the insurance may deny claims for damages that happened after the fact and could have been prevented. As you make the repairs, save your receipts and invoices.
Get at least two estimates from licensed contractors. One estimate is not usually acceptable as a proof of cost, but having two estimates from professional contractors may make it possible for the adjuster to approve and settle your claim on the spot.
Document everything. Write down the time, date and name of everyone you talk to in relation to the claim, and make notes about how each conversation goes. You may find out that your claim didn't require such in-depth details, but it is much better to be overly prepared than to have the claim denied because you can't verify some piece of information.
Do not threaten to bring in lawyers. Introducing the idea of a lawsuit is not going to help your claim get settled any faster, but it could do substantial damage to the settlement. Keep in mind that most insurance companies are going to be able to afford more and better attorneys, so avoid throwing the lawyer card on the table until it becomes obvious that you have no other options.