5 Tips When Submitting A Homeowners Claim That You Don’t Hear Every Day
By Joseph Dylan | Submitted On September 23, 2011
1. Take Ownership of Your Claim.
Sometimes, when working with a contractor (recommended) to handle your homeowner claim, it can be easy for you as a homeowner to “pass the buck” when questioned by your insurance company about your claim. But it is important to remember that your contractor does not pay your insurance premiums. You do. Because of this, your insurance company naturally looks to you for questions about your claim.
So, try to be as knowledgeable as you would be if your were NOT working with an experienced restoration contractor. So, for example, if your insurance company asks you a question, your response should never be something like, “I don’t know, my contractor told me I had damage,” but rather “Yes, the damage is severe and needs to be addressed.”
2. Be Fair.
Understand how insurance works. Insurance companies operate under general rules, theories and laws of indemnification. So, just because you think that you are owed more for a certain claim does not mean that you are. If you are able to repair any damages you’ve sustained that are listed as covered under your policy under the allotted insurance approval amount, you truly cannot expect more than this. It is not your insurance company’s job to upgrade your materials, pay your deductible or pay for items beyond the scope of damages.
Every claim rests on its own merits and is independently inspected and decided upon. So, before you assume the worst about your insurance company, make sure you understand what your insurance company is saying to you. If you were to compare your insurance coverage to ice cream, you would say that you pay for ice cream. So, you should expect ice cream. If you also expect a cherry on top, you may not only be disappointed, but in the wrong.
Having said that, be sure that you are at least getting the “ice cream” that you’re paying for. If you feel that your insurance claims decision is unfair, unfounded, biased, or otherwise inaccurate or incorrect, you should proceed further in the claims process.
3. Clean up the dog poop.
Almost all homeowner insurance claims are physically inspected. This means that a claims adjuster from your insurance company will be on your property. Adjusters inspect several claims every week and usually every day. Remember, your insurance claim is handled by human beings, the most important of which is your on-site claims adjuster.
Most adjusters are fair and are trained to simply “pay the claims as they see them” under the policy provisions. But, no matter how fair an adjuster may be, if he steps in canine feces while on your property he will have a negative memory and certainly a negative smell to remind him of your claim. And the last thing you want is negativity with regard to your claim.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all make judgements about each other. You don’t want your claims adjuster to judge you as someone who doesn’t maintain his property. So, the “no dog doo” rule can also apply to other potential pet problems, other lawn hazards like yard tools, fencing or gating issues, and the general upkeep of your home.
This isn’t to say that you need to wax your house with a toothbrush or put on some type of front of perfection. But cut the grass, lock up your son’s pet snake and pick up the rake (and the poo). You simply want to tilt the odds in your favor by not allowing the human judging element to play a factor in your claim’s outcome.
4. Take Notes.
When you submit your claim, document the date. Record a brief summary. It could be something like: “hail claim submitted may 14th, 2010 – claim # 123 – spoke with Debby Smith – they are to call me within 2 days to schedule an inspection.” It may seem like a pain and likely will be for nothing, but if you find yourself in a claims dispute, your notes and records will be invaluable.
Plus, insurance companies make mistakes. They could very well record an inaccurate claim date or “date of loss” date. Other inaccuracies could be recorded within your insurance company’s system. You can always refer to your notes to compare their info to.
Lastly, time forgets. If you end up in a dispute with your insurance company, the claims process can drag on. After weeks or months, it can be easy to forget everything that happened up to that point. Whether you represent yourself by endlessly making phone calls or writing letters or whether you hire a contractor, public adjuster or lawyer, your record keeping could net you thousands if you win in the end.
5. Do It Now.
It’s easy to put off some types of claims. You may have sustained damage that is more cosmetic in nature and the repairs may not be structurally necessary. You may plan to submit a claim, but making the claim may be lower on your priority list than it should be.
Remember, you may only have a certain amount of time to submit a claim. For certain types of claims, there may actually be a strict deadline relative to the date of loss date (the date the damage was sustained to your property), after which no claim will be honored. Other times, there may not be an exact time frame of coverage, but claims can actually be handled with bias (as stated in the policy), if deemed not to be submitted in a timely manner.
Beyond that, you should also remember that homeowners insurance is generally coverage for damages caused by sudden events. Because of this, the claims are often submitted on the same day (or very soon thereafter) that the damages are suffered. The more time that goes by from when the damage was sustained to when you actually submit the claim, the more questions it can promote from your insurance company.
In other words, if you think that your claim deserves your insurance company’s full attention, your insurance company might say that your claim also deserves your prompt attention. After all, how important is your claim if you aren’t motivated to submit it. So, if you are going to submit a claim, do it now.
If you are not a “do it now” type of person, remember that submitting a claim does not obligate you to perform the repairs right away. So, you could submit a claim now and do the work later, if that happens to better suit you.
If you live in Pennsylvania (PA) or New Jersey (NJ) and you’ve sustained hail damage, contact JP Construction at (877) 846-9566 or visit them online at http://FreeSiding.com.
If you live anywhere else, visit [http://Nircl.com] for a listing of hail and storm damage insurance restoration contractors.
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