Homeowners Insurance Claims
Homeowners Insurance Claims: Home insurance protects you financially in the event of losses caused by storms, fire, theft and other specified events. When damage occurs, you must file a claim with your insurance company to receive compensation for covered losses.
Step 1: Prepare. Nobody wants to think about potential losses, but when you are prepared to deal with such events, you will be more in control and remain calm if a situation arises. Keep contact information for your insurance company in a safe location, away from the house (e.g., in your car, with a family member) in case you need immediate assistance from your claims representative.
Step 2: Take pictures and inventory of your home and property in its normal state of being. Photograph the interior and exterior of your home, any outside buildings and even your cars. Use a video camera, if possible, and record the contents of your home. You can also create a written inventory list, detailing major appliances, furniture and other valuables. Make extra copies and store original pictures, tapes and your inventory list in a fire/waterproof safe.
Step 3: Study your home insurance policy as soon as you receive a copy in the mail. Note the incidents that are covered losses and those that are excluded. This way you will be better equipped to lower risks around the home and change potentially dangerous behaviors that can result in losses. Ask questions of your insurance agent if you do not understand the policy. Also, you must understand your insurance company's claims reporting policy, so learn what information they will need and how the process works.
Step 4: If your home catches fires, get everyone out as quickly as possible and call 911. Material items can be replaced, but a life cannot. As painful and heartbreaking as it may be, do not risk your safety to rescue an animal. The same applies if you are in the midst of a hurricane or tornado. Find shelter. Everything else can wait.
Step 5: Assess the damage after the situation has calmed down. If a tree has fallen on your house or wind has blown out your windows or removed part of your roof, take pictures immediately. Photograph all the damaged areas of your home and property, including any downed trees or large branches, as well as structural damage from inside and outside the home.
Step 6: Call your insurance company's claim hotline to get the claim process started. The representative will ask you a number of questions related to the loss or damage to your home and will assign a claims adjuster to your case. Be ready to provide information about your claim such as the date and time of incident by making some notes before you call.
During widespread catastrophic events, most insurance companies will have claims representatives posied to provide immediate assistance. If the damage to your home or property doesn't exceed or just barely exceeds the amount of your deductible, you may choose not to file a claim. Losses of any size or value can affect your premium rates in the future. You must protect your property after a loss. Board up broken windows, cover missing parts of the roof and remove salvageable items. If loss or theft occurs after the initial damage because the property was not protected, the subsequent loss may not be covered.
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