The last thing you need when your home has been damaged by an accident or natural disaster is to have your insurance claim denied. The problem is that filing successfully can be time-consuming and detail-heavy. Doing this correctly is particularly difficult when you’re trying to recover after your home was damaged.
One of the most common reasons an insurance company denies or underpays a claim is that it was filed incorrectly. You can learn how to file these claims correctly to avoid potential delays impacting how quickly your home gets repaired. Read more to learn how to properly file a home insurance claim, mistakes to avoid, and best practices to keep your claim on track.
How to File a Home Insurance Claim
The specific details of filing an insurance claim will vary depending on where you live, your insurance provider, and what policy you have. However, the basic process remains the same. Regardless of who your insurer is, you’ll need to do the following to file successfully.
- Call the authorities if necessary. If the damage was caused by a crime or otherwise poses a danger to others, call the police. For example, the police will document the incident for you if your home was vandalized. Meanwhile, if a tree has fallen on power lines on its way to land on your roof, the police will help keep people away from the downed lines until the utility company arrives.
- Make temporary repairs to avoid further damage. It’s your obligation to make emergency repairs to your home if necessary to prevent additional damage. If your basement is flooding due to a burst pipe, you need to turn off the water main and start drying up the water to minimize the water and mold damage your home will face. Keep damaged items and materials as proof of the repair.
- Inform your insurer. Once the immediate emergency is over, you should contact your insurer and notify them of the incident. This is when you can discuss details about how long you have to file a claim, what forms you need to submit, how to find licensed contractors, and more.
- Fill out and submit the forms. Your insurer will direct you to the correct forms for your claim. They are likely on the insurance company’s website, but they may not be easy to find.
- Show the insurance adjuster the damage. After filing, the insurance company will send an adjuster to your home to document the damage and determine what should be covered. You can prepare for this visit by producing typed notes on the incident’s timeline, the damage, and what it has already cost you.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Property Insurance Claim
The following mistakes can cause issues for your claim and give the insurance company an excuse to underpay or deny your claim.
Waiting Too Long to File
Your insurer has likely set deadlines for your claim. If you wait too long, you may miss critical submission windows, making it significantly harder to have your claim considered.
Furthermore, the longer you wait, the older the scene of the damage will be. This will make it harder for the adjuster to definitively determine what part of the damage should be covered by your insurance. That reduces the likelihood that you’ll receive payment in full.
Accepting Cheap Help
Avoid low-cost, all-in-one contractors or “generalists” when getting repairs. These companies probably have specialists in all the forms of damage your property has suffered. For instance, repairing your basement after a burst pipe may require the work of both a plumber and a mold remediation specialist. It’s unlikely one contractor has expertise in both.
Work with your insurer to find approved contractors dedicated to the types of repairs you need, so it’s done right the first time. This ensures you don’t need to pay to have repairs redone in the future.
Paying Contractors Before Completion
Some contractors request that you pay them in advance or sign an Assignment of Benefits granting them the rights to your insurance payment. Both are bad ideas. If you pay a contractor before the work is done, they have little incentive to complete the job or do the work well. Always retain control over your funds until the project is complete.
Best Practices for Property Insurance Claims
So, what can you do to avoid making these mistakes? The following best practices can give you a better chance of making a successful claim.
The more details you record, the better. Keep records like:
- Pictures and videos of the initial damage
- Dated notes and a timeline about the accident and any emergency repairs you needed to make
- Receipts for all repairs
- Contracts for all contractors you hire
- Receipts and bills for the costs incurred if you need to relocate due to an accident that makes your home uninhabitable
This documentation supports your claim and prevents the insurer from arguing over the costs.
Submit Claims Forms Quickly
The sooner you can submit thorough and accurate claims, the better. Your first priority after you’ve protected your home from extra damage is to begin filing your claim. This will save you from accusations that your claim was late and keep the process on track.
Request Warranties on Repair Work
Even approved specialist contractors can still make mistakes. Get warranties or guarantees on all contractor work to cover you if the work isn’t up to par. A contractor who refuses to provide some kind of quality guarantee isn’t willing to stand behind their work. Don’t settle for a contractor that doesn’t provide you with that security in your contract.
Denied or Underpaid Claim? The Professional Law Group Can Help
Even if you do everything right, your insurer may still find reasons to deny your claim or pay less than what you’re owed. That’s when it’s time to talk to the Professional Law Group. We help homeowners in Florida and Texas pursue fair compensation for their property insurance claims. Schedule your consultation to learn more about how we’ll fight for the funds your insurer owes you.