The claims process doesn’t have to be a trial-by-fire experience. Armed with the right information, you can help expedite the insurance company’s decision. That information will also be instrumental for hiring a public adjuster if the insurer denies or underestimates the amount of the damages.
Know Your Policy
Be sure you’re cognizant of what your policy covers, any exclusions, and the amount of your deductible. Depending on the extent of the damage and your deductible, it may be quicker and simpler to have the damage remediated yourself rather than file a claim. Ask questions before you ever sign a policy if you don’t understand something.
Make a written inventory of all your possessions and support it with photos and/or video before you ever need to file a claim. Be sure to update any new purchases or improvements. It will provide the proof needed that you actually had the items and the condition they were in at the time of the disaster. Keep the documentation in a safe place other than your home.
Call Your Insurer
Notify your insurance company immediately and advise them of the nature of the damage – for instance, a fire, wind damage or a break-in. The sooner the insurer knows, the quicker they can assign one of their adjusters to arrive on-scene to assess the damage. They can contact a remediation company and/or give you further instructions.
Protect the Scene
It’s critical that you protect the site from incursions by looters and trespassers. You can be sued if the scene isn’t secured against entry and someone is injured, even if they’re trespassing. It will also aid in preventing further damage. Board up windows and doors, remove furnishings when appropriate and tarp the roof if applicable. Turn off the water to the home if the problem is a broken pipe.
Without moving anything or placing yourself in danger, take photos or video of all the damage – and do so from multiple angles. Perform the task as soon as possible after the event occurs and before the insurance company’s adjuster arrives on the scene.