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What happens if I file a homeowners insurance claim?

Homeowners Insurance ClaimWhen you experience a loss of some sort that is covered under your home insurance policy, you will inevitably file a homeowners insurance claim.

Most insurance companies will respond quickly and will give you step by step instructions of what to do next. They guide you through the process because they know that it is unfamiliar territory for many people.

In addition to the help that you will receive directly from the customer service representatives at your home insurance company you may also have the luxury of receiving more personalized instructions from your homeowners insurance agent.

If you are considering changing home insurance companies or simply want to find the best homeowners insurance then be sure to enter your zip code above for free quotes!

Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim: Step 1

Home FireAs soon as you suffer a loss of any kind, your first responsibility is to make sure that everyone is safe and you have taken the necessary precautions to avoid worsening the situation.

For example, if your home is damaged by a hurricane and you needed to vacate it for safety reasons, you should take precautions to close and lock doors when leaving, to make sure you are not inviting further storm damage or even theft. You should also contact necessary emergency responders such as the police or fire department.

Once these preliminary steps are taken, you should immediately contact your homeowners insurance company. They will ask you questions concerning the event, make sure you have a place to stay, give you advice on what steps to take next and will assign someone to your claim as soon as possible.

They will also dispatch an appraiser to evaluate the losses you have incurred. Be sure to ask about coverage, deductible, how long it will take for the claims process and any other questions you might have.

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Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim: Step 2

Home RepairsThere will be a lapse of time before the insurance company contacts you again. It may be a matter of hours or days, depending on the seriousness of the claims and the information needed.

During this time, you should make any necessary temporary repairs that you can make. Document the things you have done and keep receipts for supplies, services or replacements you purchased, so you can submit them to the insurance company.

You will also need to document the losses you have incurred. Photograph or videotape all damage. Make a list of all items that have been damaged, destroyed or are missing. Do not throw away anything until the appraiser has seen it and given you the approval to throw it out. If you did a home inventory prior to the incident, access it and share it with the appraiser. Give the appraiser your list of all your losses, as well as receipts for any of the items.

If you must stay elsewhere following the event, it is important for you to keep all receipts for such lodging, so that you can submit them to the insurance company. Such things are covered by your homeowners insurance policy.

Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim: Step 3

Homeowners Insurance AgentMake sure that you have taken care of all the necessary paperwork. Find out the time limit the insurer has to provide you with insurance claims forms. Your state department of insurance can give you this information. As soon as the forms arrive, be prepared to fill them out and quickly send them back, so the claims process moves along expediently.

Following appraisal by a company-appointed appraiser, you will be offered an amount to settle the claim. This should represent the damages, less your deductible. However, you need to be aware that if you are underinsured (your insurance policy is for less than the value of the home) your claim amount offered will likely be less than you anticipated.

Often insurers will look at your policy and if you have a coverage that is equal to only 80% of the actual value of your home, they will only offer you 80% of your loss.

If you do not agree with the amount that is offered to you by your insurance company, there are appeals processes that you can avail of. Begin with internal appeals by asking the insurance company how you can appeal the amount you are being offered. They must provide you with the information you need. If internal appeals do not give you the desired result, you will need to consider external appeals, which will often be more expensive, but if you have a solid case, you stand to be reimbursed for legal costs, once your case is won.

Claims are the reasons you take out homeowners insurance. You want to be able to get the money you need when you need it. Insurance companies will often try hard to turn you down or pay you the least amount they can get away with. By understanding the claims process and knowing your options, especially if you are offered an amount less than you should be offered, you will be a much more prepared customer. Having a reputable provider is a necessity.

Remember the importance of ease of claims when you are shopping around for insurance. Take the time to compare the track record regarding complaints for any insurance company you are planning to take out a new policy with. When you are shopping for new homeowners insurance, get lots of quotes to compare and choose from by using an online search tool to help you get the prices you need to start weeding through all the options that are available to you. Why not use our free homeowners insurance rate quote tool now?

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