Any loss occurring in your home can be a traumatic experience. Whether you suffer a loss from theft, damage due to fire, or complete destruction from a natural disaster, a homeowner’s insurance policy is there to protect your financial interests.
The home insurance claims process is relatively straight forward. However, the more severe your home is damaged, the longer the claims adjusting process may take. If you suffer a loss or damage to your home, you can expect the following steps to occur:
Reporting the Claim
The first step in the claims process is to report your loss to your insurance agent or directly to the insurance company. Every state has laws in place governing how long you have before an insurance carrier can refuse a claim. If you miss the deadline, your insurance company is under no obligation to open a claim on your behalf.
After filing your claim, your insurance company will open a file on your behalf. Your claim file will then be assigned to an insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster’s responsibility is to investigate your claim and determine if and how much your insurer should pay for your loss.
Depending on your claim, you may receive a single or multiple claim payment. For example, theft of personal property usually results in a single check to pay for your stolen items. However, a home fire may require an upfront payment for temporary living expenses, payment to begin reconstruction, and a final payment for any recoverable depreciation.
Closing the Claim
Once you have received all claim payments offered by your insurance company, the insurer will officially “close” your claim. However, this does not mean you cannot reopen your claim later if you discover additional damages that was a result of the original claim’s covered peril.
Making the Claims Process Easier
In many instances where there is damage resulting from fire, smoke, water, or natural disaster, determining the extent of your family’s loss may be difficult to summarize. This is why it is highly encouraged to take a video inventory of your home and its contents, updating the video content at least once a year.
You are likely unaware of just how much “stuff” your family actually owns. It is easy to remember the flat screen televisions, furniture, and other items used daily. But remembering how many pairs of socks you own, the number individual pieces of silverware, or volumes of books owned is a completely different exercise. Taking a video or photographic inventory will greatly assist your insurance adjuster in determining your final claims payment – and make sure you are made whole!