Having a loss or damage to your home can be stressful, as it is one of your biggest assets. Here are the steps you should take:
1. Call 9-1-1 if there is a need
If the loss is caused by a burglary or theft, notify the police as soon as possible. After filing the police report, ask to take down the officer’s name, badge number, and the policy report number. If possible, get a copy of the police report because you will need to provide that information to your insurance company.
2. Try to mitigate or stop the loss (if possible)
If the loss is water, wind, etc., try to stop continuing damage by turning off the water. If there are any openings or damages to the structure of your home, try to make temporary repairs. Save the receipts for the insurance company for possible reimbursement during the claim.
3. Call your home insurance company to file the claim
Do not wait to call in your claim, it is your responsibility to report the claim to your insurance company as soon as you experience a loss. During the call, the claims intake personnel will ask for basic information such as the date and time of the loss, the structure(s) affected, a description of the loss, and whether or not there have been any steps taken to possibly mitigate the loss.
4. Document everything, take pictures of the damages, keep all of your receipts
If there is a loss to personal property or your belongings, take inventory of what was lost and the value of the item. A good idea would be to take an inventory of the items in your home on an annual basis. The inventory should include pictures, values, and descriptions of the items. Keep in mind that most homeowner insurance policies have coverage on certain times of items and valuables, such as jewelry. Make sure you double check with your insurance agent.
5. Prepare for the adjuster
The adjuster might ask for additional photos of the loss, or even a visit to your home. The adjuster’s tole is to assess the damage and confirm several details before a claim can be paid out. Work with your adjuster to provide the requested documents and information that is asked of you. If you are having a hard time reaching your adjuster, contact your insurance agent for help.
6. Receive the claim payout and complete your repairs
Some insurance companies will require that proof of the repairs were made. If you have a mortgage on your home, sometimes your mortgage company will request for the proof as well.
7. If your home cannot be inhabitable while the repairs are being made, work with your insurance company to get coverage for temporary relocating to a hotel.
Check with your insurance agent to see if you have this coverage, typically called “loss of use coverage.”