A new home purchase can be one the most exciting moments in your life. Protecting your investment with homeowners coverage can be a smart idea. Home insurance can help you feel secure knowing that losses and certain damages are covered. You might not know what to do if you suffer losses.
Bankrate’s insurance team spoke to experts to gain the best advice and insight about home insurance. They also discussed what the standard policy covers, how to file a claim in the event of damage.
What are the events that can be covered by your homeowners insurance
A homeowner might need to file a claim in several situations. It is best to consult your policy and speak with your insurance company to determine what perils are covered.
What homeowners insurance covers? Here are some common losses you might encounter.
The provider you select and the policy you have will affect your protections. It can be difficult to determine whether coverage is available for water damage. It may be worthwhile to speak to your agent to ensure you fully understand the coverage of your policy before any damage occurs.
First-time homeowners might also have to approach their policy differently depending on their particular needs.
Before you buy, make sure to review your policy.
How to file a claim for home insurance
You should contact your home insurer immediately after a loss. They will help you file your claim. Every insurance company has a different claim process. Policyholders must follow it. The sooner you file a claim, usually the sooner you will be able resolve the problem.
Get in touch with your insurance company
Experts recommend that you file your claim quickly as this could affect how smooth the process is. David Adler, the president and owner at Adler Insurance Group in Denver, Colorado — is a Denver-based Allstate insurance agency. He also suggests that you verify the perils listed on your policy with your insurer.
Adler advises, “Ask them whether this loss is covered by your policy.” “Get a clear understanding of your policy limits and your deductible costs. It is unlikely that you will file a claim if your deductible exceeds the loss.
Talking to your provider can answer many questions regarding specific losses or what you should do under your homeowners insurance policy will help you get the answers that your needs.
Complete the requested claims forms
Your insurance provider might ask you to complete certain forms after you file your claim. These forms will document the damage to your property or belongings. These are some of the information you may need:
- Personal information such as your name, date of birth and other personal details
- Number of policies
- The location of the loss
- Date of the incident
- Loss Cause
- Estimated loss amount
Insurance experts recommend that you submit photographic and/or video evidence to support your claim.
Inspect your claim
The insurance company will typically send a claims adjuster after your claim has been submitted. This person will assess the situation in greater detail.
John Espenschied is the owner of Insurance Brokers Group, a Chesterfield, Missouri company that assists homeowners and businesses with their insurance needs. He has been in business for more than two decades. At this stage, he offers friendly advice and expert guidance to homeowners.
Espenscheid states, “If there were any damages done, ensure that the adjuster inspects your property with you present before preparing an estimate for damages.” “Once they leave the property, their only source for information will be any paperwork that they have received from you.” It is possible for them to miss something during inspection. This could lead to problems later when they try to get reimbursements for the items that were missing.
Espenschied encourages clients to make a list and ask for an independent appraisal.
Adler recommends that you have a contractor present at the adjuster’s inspection to voice your concerns. In certain cases, it may be possible to hire an public adjuster . Your insurance company will usually contact you within a few days to set up an appointment with their insurance adjuster. However, if there was extensive damage to your area, it could take longer.
Prevent further damage
While you wait for the situation to resolve, you still need to manage your home. Experts recommend that you minimize any further damage.
John Butkus, director for property claims at Country Financial shares some tips with homeowners to reduce further damage. You can keep your home clean and tidy by covering any holes with tarp or boarding up broken windows. Butkus recommends that you save receipts for basic repairs, as well as any items purchased.
Nicole Shacket is a litigation lawyer at Insurance Litigation Group and recommends homeowners keep copies. Take a photo of any document you sign with a contractor with your phone, such as an agreement or work authorization. You should know what you signed, when it was signed, who signed it, and for what.
Your insurance company may require you to wait until they issue the claim payout checks. This will allow you to complete your repairs. You may receive multiple partial payments . This will allow you to make temporary repairs and then replace your belongings before you can complete more permanent repairs.
If you have to pay additional expenses, such as moving out of your house, it can become costly. Most homeowners policies cover additional living expenses that result from a covered loss. This could include eating out or staying at a hotel. Butkus says that some providers will issue checks right away to policyholders.
Here are some tips for filing a claim for home insurance
To make the filing of a claim for home insurance easier, there are several things you can do:
- Maintaining an home inventory. It is easier to replace damaged items if you have a good idea of what you own. A detailed inventory of all your belongings should be kept, with a description and a value.
- Keep evidence: Any evidence you have to support damage can be useful to your insurance company when you file a claim for home insurance.
- Extra copies of important paperwork should be kept safe. Mobile apps can also be used to track and store photos of your belongings.
- Keep current photos: While many homeowners wait until an actual incident happens to capture photos, it can be a good idea to do so before that happens.
Before you file a claim, ask questions
Sometimes it can be hard to decide if filing a claim for home insurance is the right choice. Adler suggests some things homeowners should consider before starting the process. This includes determining how many claims you have filed on your home, and whether negligence was involved. Your insurer may increase your premiums, or deny you renewal of your policy, if you file too many claims in a short time. Poor maintenance could also impact your eligibility for a payout.
Another important question to ask is whether the damage is severe and if the deductible exceeds repair costs. It may not be worth filing for a claim if you have a small loss that requires you to pay more than what it would cost to repair the damage. Talk to your agent to make sure you are 100% certain.
What to do if you are denied an insurance claim
It does not necessarily mean that your insurance claim will be approved just because you have filed it. Your insurance company will typically notify you by a mailed explanation and your adjuster by phone or email.
A denied insurance claim may not always be validly disputed, especially if it was not covered. You can file a formal appeal within the time limit or seek advice from a public adjuster if you believe that the damage should be covered. There is no guarantee that your claim will be accepted.
Questions frequently asked
Is it possible to increase your premium by filing a claim for home insurance?
The cost for your homeowners insurance could be affected by filing a claim on your home insurance. This will depend on the details of the claim and the underwriting guidelines of your company. Your record may be reviewed by insurance companies to determine how many claims you have had, and how much they paid. You may be able to get quotes from another company that offers lower coverage. However, these companies might also charge you for your claim.
How long can an insurance claim remain on your records?
Although insurance claims are generally kept on your records for three to five years on average, each company has its own regulations.
After a claim, can my insurance company cancel my policy?
An insurance company could cancel your home policy for many reasons. You might file too many claims in a short time, or file a claim for a specific situation like a dog bite.