When a loss occurs to your home, depending on the severity, you may wonder that calling in a claim will affect your rates.
This idea sometimes causes homeowners to not file an insurance claim and handle the repairs on their own. Just remember there is a reason you have insurance and that you do pay a premium every year.
Some homeowners are still hesitant to file an insurance claim. I completely understand, and that is why I’m here to help you weigh your options.
FULL DISCLAIMER: Your agent or insurance company will be able to advise you on whether to file an insurance claim. They will be able to direct you and advise what your policy covers. Most insurance policies state that you must notify your insurance company of your claim request in a timely manner. The definition of a timely manner is not precise; however, I would advise them as soon as you can. It would help if you allowed the insurance company to have an ample amount of time to investigate the claim fully, and soon after the damage occurs so they can determine coverage.
Here are some things to consider prior to filing an insurance claim:
First things first: Locate the declarations page of your insurance policy.
- Here is how to read your declarations page.
- Find on your policy the contact information for your agent and proceed to call them to advise of your claim 😊.
- If you don’t want to call them now, keep the information handy if and when you are ready to file an insurance claim.
- Proceed to highlight your deductible amount.
Next: Determine what is damaged and what caused it.
- Locate the most damaged area and start investigating what caused the damage.
- You must mitigate the damage.
- Example: Let’s say that you have a busted water line; you should shut off the water immediately if you haven’t already (yikes!) then clean up the area to avoid further damage from occurring; for instance, mold growth.
- It’s your duty as an insured (you are the insured) to prevent further damage from occurring to your home; it’s stated in your policy.
- Once you have mitigated the loss, try your best to confirm what caused the damage.
- If you cannot determine what caused the damage, then you may have to call a professional.
- For simple things like plumbing, do not wait for your insurance company to assist you in this.
- Once you call the professional, we will stick with the plumber example; just keep your receipt for the repairs, including the diagnostic fee.
- You will want to keep a running tab on all of your expenses to determine if they exceed your deductible.
- If the costs and repairs exceed your deductible, depending on coverage, you may receive a check in the mail from your insurance company once they complete their inspection.
- If you believe the total cost of your out of pocket expenses and repairs far exceed your deductible, then you should report your insurance claim immediately.
Keep reading, so you know what to do before moving or repairing anything!
If you must call a professional to diagnose the cause of the damage, please do yourself a favor and take photographs of everything before anyone cuts, removes, or moves anything.
Once you have your photos, then allow the professional to proceed. The exception to this is if you have a significant fire loss. You should not be reading this article if you just sustained a total or considerable fire loss. It would be best if you did not do anything to the interior of your home to preserve the scene. Your insurance company is likely to hire an engineer in the event of a total loss.
Any significant loss, or unknown cause of loss (when you can’t figure out what caused damage to your home), the insurance company may hire an engineer on their dime. The engineer is something to consider in your decision to file a claim.
Wouldn’t you want to know what caused damage to your home if you could not figure it out? Wouldn’t you want an engineer to assist the insurance company in ways to make the repairs if you had no idea?
For instance, major electrical issues with no apparent cause of loss could prompt your insurance company to hire an electrical engineer to determine coverage. The engineer could supply the insurance company with an estimate of repairs.
Once you know what caused the damage, you can always locate in your policy where it’s covered. If you can’t find where it’s included or excluded, then call your agent!
Since you determined what caused the damage, they will be able to advise you if it’s most likely covered or not. The assigned insurance adjuster will later confirm coverage.
It will take me a 3,000+ word blog post to detail how to read your insurance policy; that post is coming very soon. But for the time being, here is cheat sheet based on your policy form listed on your dec page:
|DWG-1 and DWG-2, DP -1, DP -2, HO-2, HO-6||You will see your covered perils listed. AKA Named Peril Policy. If it is not listed, it is not covered.|
|DWG -3, DP-3, HO-3, H 00 03, HO-5||All Perils included UNLESS specifically excluded. Remember, endorsements could replace coverage language.|
|Your Policy says NAMED PERILS||Only those perils are covered.|
|Policy says PERILS INSURED AGAINST||Includes all perils UNLESS specifically excluded. Remember, endorsements could replace coverage language.|
Please note this is just a simple graphic to help you locate your info in your policy. A more detailed explanation is genuinely required. This is not referring to personal property losses.
If your claim appears covered, start surveying the damage.
- Prepare a list with categories of each room that sustained damage.
- Under each room, document damage to the ceiling, walls, and flooring.
- Continue with listing damaged contents (personal property) with my handy personal property inventory form.
If you have minimal damage, go ahead and get a contractor’s quote to determine if the damage will exceed your deductible.
You can make repairs yourself and keep your receipts if you wish to go that route. Just know that the insurance company must determine coverage and reimbursement costs. They may be more inclined to pay you based on a contractor’s invoice. All companies vary and reimbursement is based on their guidelines.
When I would recommend to call your agent immediately and file an insurance claim:
|You have a fire loss of any severity.|
|If you have a significant water loss or structural loss (tree falling on your property).|
|Someone causes damage to your property like a vehicle impact. If a contractor is performing work at your home and makes a mistake, that results in damages to your home.|
|If there is a major catastrophe in your area, I would file a claim if there is any indication of damage. When there is widespread damage, most likely you are affected in some way.|
|Legit, significant damage should be claimed.|
When you should consider your options before calling in an insurance claim:
|Several minor claims that could have been prevented could impact your insurance premium.|
|Unjust claims should not be called in.|
|If a roofer randomly knocks on your door and says that you have roof damage, please consider their intentions and motivations. Find out what is damaged and when it occurred.|
Based on the above information here is a recap to consider:
- Determine the severity of your loss.
- Determine if you or a professional is required to find the cause of loss.
- Total the costs and repairs, and determine if it exceeds your deductible.
- Determine if your loss is covered.
- If someone else caused damaged.
- Determine if there has been widespread damage in your area.
- Determine a roofer/ contractor’s intentions when randomly knocking on your door or soliciting repairs.
- Here is a good article regarding claims affecting your premium.
When in doubt, call your agent and discuss your concerns. Before you call them, try and have as much information ready so they can assist you in the best possible way. Always trust your gut. If you are genuinely concerned with the damage you find, then call in the claim.
While I cannot assist you in consultation or direction of your decision, I can advise you on what questions to ask or what information you should have for your agent or adjuster. Feel free to comment below or send me a message here.
The Curious Confidential: Will you file a claim based on information from the blog post?