Many people don’t know how an insurance claim works until they’re right in the middle of one. An insurance claim can play a crucial role on your financial future. A denied claim can leave you with thousands of dollars of losses out of pocket. A successful insurance claim, meanwhile, can make you whole against after an unexpected event.
How does a home insurance claim work? Here’s the typical process used during most insurance claims:
Step 1) An accident occurs
You come home to find your condo flooded. Your house burns down due to a cooking fire. Your upstairs neighbor’s toilet leaks, causing water to come down through the ceiling. Whatever the case may be, these are the types of events you expect insurance to cover.
Step 2) Take photos and document everything
Before taking any action, it’s crucial to document and photograph all evidence possible. If you don’t have any photos or documents, then you don’t have any proof the damage actually occurred. Some people clean up the scene and start making basic repairs before taking any photos. Don’t do this. Take photos of anything and everything related to your claim.
Step 3) Secure the scene if safe to do so
Next, secure the scene. You have an obligation from your insurance company to minimize damage as much as reasonably possible. If a storm has knocked a hole in your roof during a storm, for example, then you can’t just ignore that hole for weeks and allow water to enter your home and expect damage to be covered. Put a tarp over the damage, for example.
Step 4) Contact your insurance company and start the claim
The next step is to contact your insurance company and begin the actual claim. All insurance companies have a well-established claims process. Some require you to call. Others let you begin a claim online. Some even have an app. The insurer may provide you with funds upfront. You can use these funds to stay in a hotel, for example, or for other emergency expenses. They may also tell you to hire an emergency restoration company.
Step 5) Read your insurance policy
Now is a good time to read your insurance policy. Make sure you understand what’s covered – including any restrictions relating specifically to your incident.
Step 6) Start filing paperwork
Your insurance company will require you to start filing paperwork, including proof of loss forms and other documents.
Step 7) Consider requesting your own estimate
An insurance company may estimate that repairs will only cost $1,000. They may be right – but it never hurts to get a second or third opinion. Consider calling restoration companies or contractors to give their thoughts.
Step 8) Talk to your insurance company’s adjuster
Typically, your insurance company will send an adjuster to the scene to verify the case will be covered. This adjuster will make sure it’s a legitimate claim. The adjuster will inspect the damages and repairs. At this point, you may want to hire your own public adjuster, who works for you and not your insurance company.
Step 9) Insurance company presents an offer or denies your claim
At this point, the insurance company will either present an offer or deny your claim.
Step 10) Negotiations and disputes
You can choose to accept or deny your insurance company’s offer. Consider talking to a public adjuster if the insurance company has denied your offer (or presented a low offer) for no apparent reason.
Step 11) Receiving payment and conclusion
The insurance company pays you, you submit final paperwork, and the claim is complete.
Find more insurance claim tips about how home insurance claims work in this article.
Claims processes vary between situations. These are the general steps used for most insurance claims. To hire a public adjuster on your side throughout this entire process, contact ClaimsMate Public Adjusters.