Disaster strikes your home! A flash flood got inside your defenses, a roof began to sag dramatically, or something in your home burst into flames. First things first, you must address the issue. Douse the flames or call for professional help to make sure a sag doesn’t turn into a total loss. Once you’ve stopped the immediate problem, you consider contacting your homeowner’s insurance. But you first have a few questions. When should your insurance company get involved? Once they are involved, how often are you required to check back in?
Documentation comes first
The first step in a homeowner’s insurance claim isn’t calling up your company or contacting them online. The first thing you should do is document the extent of the damage. Pictures and video are both very helpful. Take as many pictures from as many angles as you can manage. Once you’ve thoroughly documented the damage you’ll have sure footing going into the claims process. Homeowner’s insurance can be tricky to navigate, so you’ll have to proceed under the assumption that every picture you take will have value down the road.
Start your claim ASAP
Documentation may come first, but once you’ve taken the steps to provide adequate proof of damages, go ahead and start your claim. Contact your homeowner’s insurance company and file the initial claim. If you send them some of the photographs you took as part of the claim’s process, great. Some companies ask you to hold onto any evidence you have. Either way, they’ll more than likely want to send a claims adjuster out to the property themselves. He or she looks over the property and gives their own estimate of the cost to repair the damages.
Keep in contact
Don’t assume your work is over, once you’ve had an adjuster out. It’s important to update your homeowner’s insurance company frequently. As work to restore your home progresses, you act as a conduit. Some insurance companies want your restoration company to work directly with them on the paperwork, while some companies expect you to be a go-between. Either way, frequently check in with both your contractors and your insurance team to make sure everything’s on track.
Don’t close your claim quickly
Never close your insurance claim before the work is totally completed. Disaster could strike again, even at the last second, forcing you to appeal the claim. In most cases, you’re stuck with the amount that you agreed on. Keeping your homeowner’s insurance claim open for weeks or months (however long it takes to repair your home) can be stressful, but settling too soon is never the answer. Ask your contractor how willing they are to work with an insurance company’s payments, This helps you find a contractor that won’t bill you until the work is done.
Knowing when to contact your insurance company—and when to stay in contact with them—helps take a lot of the terror out of a disaster. Get your evidence while the disaster is fresh. Then stick with your insurance company until the repairs are finished.