How to Prepare to Make a Home Owner's Insurance Claim

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When something goes wrong in a home, a homeowner with insurance may be curious to know how to prepare a home owner’s insurance claim. Every homeowner’s insurance policy is different and so it is important to read what your specific policy says. However, most policies ask their customers for a similar protocol when something goes wrong in their home. Whether it is your first time having to file a claim or it’s been a while since you’ve filed one, here are the necessary preparations to make in order to make a home owner’s insurance claim.

Filing a Claim: Does it Make Financial Sense

Even before filing a claim, you should think about whether it is financially smart to do so. Your homeowner’s insurance policies deductible amount should be a good indicator for whether or not to make that decision. If the cost of repairing the damage to the home or replacing a stolen item is less than the deductible (check your policy for the amount you have to pay), then you may be better off just paying out of pocket for the expense yourself.

Contact Authorities Immediately—If Applicable

If the house was burglarized, it is important to contact authorities right away—not just for safety—but for insurance reasons. Insurance companies may ask for a police report to get a complete understanding of what happened to your home, and to assess the damages and losses incurred. In addition, insurance companies may ask to speak with officers who showed up to the scene to get the complete details—so it may be helpful to ask for the officers’ badge numbers and names.

Contact the Homeowner’s Insurance Company About the Claim ASAP

The sooner the insurance company knows about what damages have been done to your home the better. This will give your insurance lender a heads up to get the process rolling. Getting in touch with the insurance lender will also give you more details about your specific policy. The insurance lender will then send the claim forms either through the mail or have them made available online. The sooner those forms are filled out and sent back, the sooner they could help.

Make a List of Damages for Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim

Once you figure out all the damages to a home, it is a good idea to make a detailed list of everything that is broken or needs to be repaired. If this is not your area of expertise, then it is a good idea to get a professional for a more thorough second opinion. For instance, damage caused by burglaries can be much easier to assess than home repairs. It is also a good idea to photograph any damage with a time stamp attached to it.

Make Temporary Repairs Before Involving Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company

If possible, make temporary repairs before involving your homeowner’s insurance company. This is a good idea of you are dealing with a broken part of a home or are dealing with damage that may get worse. This can help prevent your home from being further damaged; and depending on how bad the repair is, extend the amount of time you can live in the home. If you do make small repairs or hire a professional to do so—make sure to keep receipts for the costs—as your insurance company may reimburse you for them.

Make Time for the Insurance Adjuster to Visit and Inspect Your Claim

Once your insurance lender knows about your claim and has the claim paperwork, they will then send out an adjuster—a person that inspects and assess the damages you are claiming. Be prepared for some type of interview and an inspection process that could take a few minutes to an hour (depending on the damage). At this point, it may be helpful to provide the adjuster with the list of damages that you had made earlier.

Keep Track of Expenses If You Need to Relocate While Repairs are Being Done

Sometimes the damages to a home (such as the aftermath of a natural disaster) can be so great that a person has to temporarily relocate until the insurance company fixes up their home. In this case, keep track of all the money spent on relocation—this means keeping a detailed history of expenses with receipts. Most insurance policies will cover the cost associated with relocation as long as the customer can provided proof of these expenditures.

Preparing to file a claim for homeowner’s insurance can be done fairly simply; it’s all about contacting the right people, keeping track of details, and doing a little bit of paperwork. To make things as easy and streamlined as possible, it is best to keep communication with your insurance company open and honest. Once a homeowner passes over the necessary information for their claim, they could sit back and let the homeowner’s insurance company handle the rest.

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