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Homeowners insurance and making a successful claim

If anything goes wrong and either your home is damaged or someone is injured on your property, you will need to make a claim. The starting point is the policy itself. This is the contract between you and the insurance company. The first steps are to make sure the policy covers this particular type of loss and that it makes economic sense to claim. Remember that claiming trivial amounts can result in premium increases. Remind yourself what deductible you agreed to pay. So even if the losses are covered, it can make more sense to pay smaller amounts on top of the deductible out of your own pocket. Now we are certain you are covered and the amount makes the claim worthwhile, follow the procedure laid down by the insurer. You don’t want to make a claim and then find it rejected on a technicality. The first issue is time. All insurers operate a strict limit. If you notify the company after time has expired, you lose your claim. Whenever you think there’s a real claim, send an email or letter as soon as possible. Keep a diary and copies of all correspondence. Should this come to a dispute, you want everything in apple-pie order showing who said what to whom and when.

If you are the victim of crime, whether a burglary or vandalism, report it to the police immediately. Insist details of the crime are logged and get details of all the law enforcement officers and any technicians you may speak with. As a part of the claim, you must be able to refer the insurer to the official police report. You must also do whatever is reasonable to make your property secure again. Many policies cut off the liability if you could have prevented further damage. Always make temporary repairs or get someone else to do it for you.

Now comes the distressing part. You are going to need a list of all the property damaged or missing. Do not throw this property away unless it’s a hazard to health or seriously in the way. There’s no better proof of loss than being able to show a claims adjuster what’s left of your property. If you have no choice, take pictures. Find all the receipts you have kept to prove initial value. Put a file together documenting everything. Get quotes from builders for any repair work required. Get the claim form. Fill it out properly. If you have any doubts, get someone to help you. Do not delay returning the completed form. Make an early appointment for the claims adjuster to come and inspect. Remember you will need authorization before the builder can start repairs.

If someone is injured on your property, write a detailed explanation of how it happened and notify the home insurance company immediately. If you delay and a letter of claim arrives in your mailbox, you may find yourself without insurance cover. Remember insurers exchange information about all the claims you make. If the homeowners insurance quotes rise from your current company, all the other may follow. There’s no doubt for third party liability. Always file the claim. For your own losses, be sure it’s economic to make the claim before you lodge it.

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