Most homeowners expect to be fully covered for their losses when disaster strikes. After all, that’s what insurance is there for, right? Unfortunately, there are a few caveats to making homeowners insurance claims. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should put off making a claim on major damage to your home.
The best way to make a major home insurance claim is to try and get the most out of it as you possibly can. And this involves not only understanding your policy, but also knowing how to properly document damage and handle any disputes.
Understanding Your Coverage
Easier organization and filing of your claim will be the result of understanding the ins and outs of your policy. Additionally, taking a close look at the deductibles and limits of your policy will help keep your finances on track, as this information will tell you how much in repair costs you will have to pay on your own. It will also allow you to choose those repairs which are most urgent.
Your personal items will likely be included in what needs to be replaced. But it’s important to know whether your policy will cover their replacement cost or actual cash value. If it’s the latter, expect to pay at least some money out-of-pocket to cover the costs of damaged personal items.
Your insurance company is likely well aware that you are no expert when it comes to documenting your property damage, so the best advice is to do the best job you can. Being thorough is the most important thing, so consider using all of the documenting tools you have at your disposal, such as a digital still or video camera.
Both the interior and exterior of your home should be covered in your documenting. However, it’s important that any photos or video be taken prior to beginning your repairs. If repairs have already begun, ensure that you have all of the related receipts.
Creating an inventory of both missing and damaged items is a good idea, as your insurance company will ask you about this once you contact them
Dealing With Disputes
Although it may not occur, being prepared for a dispute with your insurance company is wise. If you don’t agree with what they’ve estimated to be your total losses, then you will need to know what your rights are. This can only occur by carefully reviewing your policy to understand your rights.
The Complications of Claiming
It’s true that if you file too many claims, you could end up paying more in insurance premiums. Worse still, if you make two claims in a five-year period, your insurance company could drop you like a stone. In fact, even calling your insurance company for information could get you in trouble. This is why it’s so important to ensure you ask in the right way.
Simply by identifying that you are asking these questions for informational purposes only, you can avoid your call being counted as a claim. The C.L.U.E. database is what insurance companies consult when you call. This database contains damage claims covering seven years, and may also include your previous calls for information. Those having many claims in the database will appear far less favorable to insurance companies than those who don’t.
Experts say that the best way to avoid being flagged by your insurance company is to see how much your claim exceeds your deductible. They advise not calling your insurance company if a claim ends up being only a few hundred dollars above your deductible. A good rule of thumb is to file a claim that is more than double your deductible.
The author Carly Jorge writes on a variety of topics, but is particularly well-versed on the subject of homeowners insurance. She recommends The Home Protection Geek as a resource for consumers looking to educate themselves on the topic.