How do I file a homeowners claim?

If someone has become injured on your property or if a violent storm destroys your home, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. Remember, a homeowners policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. And there are rules and procedures that you and your insurer must follow. Read your insurance policy to see what your responsibilities are.

Report any crime to the police If you are the victim of a theft or your home has been vandalized or burglarized, report it to the police. Get a police report and the names of all law enforcement officers that you speak with.

Phone your agent or company immediately Insurance policies place a time limit on filing claims. Find out what the time limit is. Ask questions: Am I covered? Does my claim exceed my deductible? (Your deductible is the amount of loss you agree to pay yourself when you buy a policy.) How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?

Make temporary repairs Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles You are going to need to substantiate your loss. Avoid throwing out damaged items until the adjuster has visited your home. You should also consider photographing or videotaping the damage. Prepare a home inventory, make a copy for your adjuster and supply him or her with copies of receipts from damaged items.

If you need to relocate, keep your receipts If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep records of all additional expenses incurred. Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for the “loss of use” of your home.

Get claim forms Once your insurance company has been notified of your claim, the company is required to send you the necessary claim forms to you by the end of a specified time period. (The time period varies from state to state.) Return the properly filled out forms as soon as possible in order to avoid delays.

Have an adjuster inspect the damage to your home Your insurance company will probably arrange for an adjuster to come and inspect your home.

Once you and your insurance company agree on the terms of your settlement, state laws require that you be sent payment promptly. In most cases, your claim will be processed quickly. If you have any questions about the claim filing laws in your state, call your insurance agent or your state department of insurance.

Courtesy of The Insurance Information Institute

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    About Bob Slocum
    Bob is a life long resident of Warwick, Rhode Island where he attended public school graduating in 1972 from Warwick Veterans Memorial High School. He began his insurance career at the age of 16 while he was still in high school and he became one of the youngest licensed insurance agents at the age of 18. Bob worked at the Slocum Insurance Agency while he attended the University of Rhode Island and he graduated in 1975 with a BSBA degree with a major in Finance & Insurance. In 1978 he received the insurance industry’s highest professional designation, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and in that same year he received the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. View Robert Slocum’s LinkedIn Profile

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