How to File Home Insurance Claims

If disaster strikes, would you know how to file a home insurance claim? If not, you may have difficulty receiving a fair settlement from your insurer. Here are a few simple steps to help you file home insurance claims.

  • Keep a Detailed Description of the Damage

    When you file home insurance claims, your insurer will need to know exactly which items have been damaged or stolen. You will need to do the following:

    • Make a list of all the damaged items
    • If you have them, collect receipts for damaged items
    • If you've taken a home inventory, provide it to your insurer

    These steps will help the home insurance claims adjuster set a value on damaged or destroyed property.

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  • File Home Insurance Claims Immediately

    Home insurance claims must be filed within a timely manner. Most insurers require you to file a claim within a few months of sustaining loss. Failing to do so may cause your claim to be denied. Remember: The sooner you file a claim, the sooner it will be handled, so don't delay.

  • Do Not Make Permanent Repairs

    Do not make permanent repairs until a home insurance claims adjuster inspects your home. Insurance companies will deny home insurance claims if the homeowner makes permanent repairs before the damage is inspected by a claims adjuster.

    However, you are expected to make temporary repairs to protect your home from further damage. This may include throwing a tarp over an exposed hole in your roof. Remember to save receipts from temporary repairs and submit them to the insurance company for reimbursement.

  • Make Sure You Receive the Necessary Paperwork

    After you have contacted your insurance company about your home insurance claims, they have a set amount of time to send you your home insurance claims forms (the time period varies from state to state). Fill out the home insurance claims forms and return them to your insurance company quickly to keep the claims process moving.

  • Home Insurance Claims Always Require an Inspection

    Your insurance company will arrange for a home insurance claims adjuster to come and inspect the damage. Take detailed notes on all contacts with your insurance company and the home insurance claims adjuster. Your chances of getting a satisfactory settlement improve when you are well-prepared. Make sure to keep the following information on-hand:

    • Names of insurance representatives and claims adjusters
    • Important dates
    • Copies of documents
    • Any written correspondence

    Remember, good records help your cause if you need to file a complaint or lawsuit against your insurer.

  • Don't Agree to a Claim Settlement if You're Dissatisfied

    If you believe your final claim settlement is unfair, you don't necessarily have to accept what is offered. Homeowners are entitled to obtain independent estimates if they desire.

    After major claims events (disasters, storms, etc.), "public adjusters" offer to help victims pursue their home insurance claims—for a price. You probably don't need a public adjuster, but if you hire one, be sure about the fee. Usually, it's a percentage of your claim payment.

  • Get Multiple Bids for Repairs

    If possible, use a local contractor with a solid reputation for home insurance claims work. Large home insurance claims events like storms sometimes attract fly-by-night operators who do shoddy work or skip town after receiving advance payments.

Take a few moments to browse over your home insurance policy. It will help you familiarize yourself with the details of your policy in case you ever need to file home insurance claims. And if you think you could be paying too much for your home insurance coverage, use InsWeb's online quote form to help you compare homeowners insurance quotes in minutes.