When your residential property is damaged by a fire, wind, water or other disaster, the burden of proof to prove your loss falls on you, the policyholder. It’s also up to you to manage your claim and make sure you’re fully compensated for everything you are entitled to under the terms of your homeowners insurance policy.
The property insurance claim process is complex — the larger the loss, the more complex the process. Follow these four tips to get the most from your homeowners insurance claim.
Base who you trust on reality, not TV
Every year, the insurance industry spends more than a billion dollars to convince you they are your friend, your neighbor, the one you can depend on when disaster strikes. And every year, the courts hear case after case where homeowners are taken advantage of by insurance companies reducing claims payouts to bolster corporate profits.
Not every insurance company will low-ball your settlement offer, but even the friendliest insurance representative is not your friend. He or she has a job to do, and part of that job is to maximize corporate profits by minimizing losses — which inherently conflicts with your best interests.
If you have questions about your homeowners insurance claim, seek advice from a licensed public insurance adjuster.
Show that you know
Demonstrating your ability to move your property insurance claim through the process is a good signal to your insurance company and claims adjuster that they can’t take advantage of you. To ensure you succeed, you’ll need to:
- Know what your policy does and does not cover.
- Follow the claim process outlined in your policy, making certain you meet all of your contractual obligations and deadlines.
- Understand which parts of your policy are subject to interpretation.
- Develop your claim strategy based on your reasonable understanding of your coverages, endorsements, exclusions and policy limits.
- Document everything.
- Present your position and documentation to your insurance claims adjuster.
- Negotiate for the settlement you want, need and deserve.
The property insurance claim process is complicated, time consuming, and stressful — all
things that work against you when you need to be thorough, persistent and strong.
When the going gets tough, remind yourself it is a process that moves through predictable stages:
- Notifying your insurer and taking steps to prevent additional damage
- Allowing your insurance company access to investigate your damages
- Removing debris, and documenting and valuing your damages for your Proof of Loss statement
- Soliciting and comparing bids for the work you’ll need done
- Selecting contractors and overseeing needed construction and repairs
- Presenting receipts for all covered Additional Living Expenses and, if applicable, the difference between the Actual Cash Value you were awarded for your destroyed personal property and the
- Replacement Cost Value you paid to replace said property.
- Negotiating your total property insurance settlement offer
Get expert help if you need it
Much like you would consult a CPA for complex tax matters, or an attorney for legal issues, a public insurance adjuster is a licensed professional who can advocate exclusively for you throughout your homeowners insurance claim process.
You need your homeowners insurance to cover what it will cost to return your property to pre-loss condition. If you have any doubt about your ability to maximize your insurance settlement offer, you may want to consult with a public insurance adjuster licensed to operate in your state.