An Easy Guide: Homeowners Insurance Claim Process
Let me clear up the title for you- a homeowners insurance claim is NOT AN EASY PROCESS! Instead, this article is just a quick and easy guide for you 😊. Now technically, it can be an easy process, but it’s not always!
You may be wondering where to even begin after disaster strikes. It can be an overwhelming time, so let’s make things easy for you with the quick and easy guide to help you file a homeowners insurance claim!
Let’s get started. First things first, take a deep breath. You will get through this!
It’s broken record time: Get out that declarations page and find your number for your agent, the insurance company to call in the claim, or file the claim online, if available. Read my disclaimer.
- Download the Property Insurance Claim Packet to help you get organized and get things under control.
- With your packet ready, let’s file your claim now. Either by phone or online.
- Let the insurance company or your agent know of anything detrimental to your home. For instance, a tree on the roof, the house is vulnerable, open to elements, fire loss, no place to go. They will be able to tell you immediately what to do.
RECEIVE A CALL FROM THE ADJUSTER/ INSURANCE CO.
- An adjuster will call you for the inspection. They will need to ask you some questions to get an idea of what is going on with your claim. You will have a field adjuster come out, or an adjuster from the insurance company will directly handle your claim over the phone via chat or video. (times are changing).
- If the adjuster is coming out, they will schedule a date and time with a window of arrival. Be prepared by filling out the rest of the Property Insurance Claim Packet!
- The adjuster/ insurance company will investigate your claim by coming out to your property to determine coverage. The inspection will consist of interviewing you (not as scary as it sounds), taking photographs, and asking for any documentation such as contractor invoices, temporary repair receipts, and so on.
- The adjuster will work with your restoration company (if your claim is covered) and figure out what was done by them. You usually do not have to pay your restoration company if your claim is covered and exceeds your deductible. The insurance company typically pays them directly.
- Sometimes, determining coverage requires a little bit more work. Your adjuster may need the help of an engineer or an additional professional to determine the cause of loss. By learning what caused the loss (damage to your home), they will be able to determine then if it’s covered or not.
- If you have coverage for your claim, the adjuster will prepare an estimate of damages to submit to the insurance company for final review and payment. Most independent adjusters have their reports and estimate go through a quality control process before being sent to the insurance company.
- A copy of the estimate showing what exactly is being paid for will be either emailed or mailed to you. You will need to go through the estimate and make sure everything that is damaged is included. If, for some reason, something is missing, make a note of it, and once you are finished your review of the entire estimate, email or call your insurance adjuster and ask why. Either they forgot to include it, or it’s not covered.
- Once your claim gets approved, you should receive a check. There is a chance that your mortgage company will be on the check and will have to endorse it. Once your check is endorsed, deposit your check and begin repairs.
- If your claim is not approved, you will receive a letter from your insurance company stating exactly why your claim was denied. If you do not receive an explanation, you need to require one.
- Remember, if you do not cooperate with the insurance company, you will violate your insurance policy. The insurance company then has a right to request an examination under oath.
SUPPLEMENTS AND DISPUTES
- If you did not receive enough money from the insurance company, you could request supplemental funds (if warranted). Just because you deposit a check from your homeowners insurance does not mean your claim is complete. They must pay you as soon as possible for undisputed damages. If you find additional damages, then notify them promptly.
- Make sure that you are comparing the total amount of the claim against your total amount of expenses or contractor estimate. The deductible must be part of your comparison! REMEMBER, you must pay your deductible!
- As mentioned earlier, if the adjuster forgot to include something, just let them know. They can issue another check with a revised estimate. It is not a big deal, and you should not make it one. Being nice will get your money faster.
- The same goes for disagreements. Just because you are not entirely in agreement, does not mean you should hold up your money. You can always attempt to have your contractor work with the adjuster by having them submit their estimate. We will not talk about attorneys or public adjusters because I cannot give you legal advice.
- It’s a good rule of thumb to receive approval from the insurance company for additional funds rather than completing the extra work and THEN asking. It doesn’t usually work out well.
Take a deep breath and write everything down that you either disagree with, the adjuster left out, or items that were not covered. Next, you should politely call or email your adjuster and request an explanation. If you are having trouble with your claim and you feel like it’s not going anywhere, then you will need to decide to take further action.
Sample questions to ask your adjuster/ insurance company when you have a dispute:
- Why was BLANK left out of the estimate in my NAME ROOM/AREA? *be as specific as possible*
- Why wasn’t BLANK covered? May you send me the policy language that shows it’s not covered?
- I want to request additional funds as my contractor provided an estimate that is greater than the adjuster’s estimate. Where should I send my contractor’s estimate?
- Why is my deductible X amount?
- Why is the square footage listed as BLANK in the bedroom, but it should be BLANK?
- My roofer stated I needed a new roof, but my estimate reflects a repair. Why was I not granted a full roof replacement? You can always request an additional inspection if you feel the adjuster missed damage. Unfortunately, it happens!
- Why are you not allowing some areas to paint?
- Why is there depreciation taken from my estimate when I have replacement cost coverage?
RECEIVE ADDITIONAL FUNDS
Most claims are settled at actual cash value even though you are entitled to replacement cost coverage. For you to receive the remainder of your funds AKA your recoverable deprecation, you must submit an invoice showing repairs are complete.
If you make the repairs for less than what the estimate reflects, you will only receive the amount that you spent to make the repairs. So, if you only spend $500, but the adjuster’s estimate shows $800, you will only receive funds up to $500. You cannot profit from your insurance claim.
Here is an example from an estimate showing the total replacement cost value minus the depreciation equals the total of the actual cash value. The deductible is then subtracted from the actual cash value to result in a net claim amount- this is the first check. Once the repairs are made, you can request the total recoverable deprecation. This amount will now bring your entire claim to the “Net Claim if Depreciation is Recovered.”
The insurance claim process seems to terrify some people. You really should not let the process or insurance company get to you. Knowledge is power!
You have many resources on my blog to help guide you through the process. Plus, you have a secret weapon- me! I’m here if you need anything. While I can’t help in consulting you, I can help you come up with some questions to ask your adjuster or insurance company.
The Curious Confidential: What do you think of my easy guide for a homeowners insurance claim process? Did it help you out during your claim? Let me know!