When it comes to filing a claim on your homeowners insurance, preparation always pays off. Most homeowners don't realize that their claim amount is negotiable. The homeowner will submit a claim and expect to get reimbursed for the full amount. Usually, though, the insurance company comes back with their own estimate of the damage. Often that estimate is much lower than the homeowner's claim amount. Knowing how the claim process works will help you get the highest possible benefit. Here are four important tips to remember to help you manage the claim filing process:
Document all of your belongings. Should your home suffer damage from a fire or a natural disaster, you'll be asked to submit a claim listing all of your belongings and their value. Unless you live an extremely minimalist lifestyle, it's highly unlikely that you will be able to remember everything. You can help yourself by taking the time to document all of your belongings and their approximate value. If possible, take pictures or videotape them. Store those images online so they can't be damaged in the home. When it comes time to file a claim, you can simply refer back to your documentation.
Take pictures of the damage. As soon as it is safe to re-enter your home, take pictures of all the damage. Your insurance company will likely be able to get someone out quickly to inspect the home. If they can't get there right away, though, these pictures will be extremely helpful. Also, you'll be able to compare the post-damage pictures to images of the home's usual condition. That will give you some documentation to back up your arguments in benefit negotiations.
Only make temporary repairs. If a fallen tree put a hole in your roof, you'll obviously want to cover the hole as quickly as possible. However, do so with as little cost and effort involved as possible. If you make permanent repairs, the insurance adjuster may not fully understand the scope of the damage and may not include the cost of those repairs in your benefit. You want them to see the total damage, so only repair it as much as necessary.
Get multiple estimates. You should prepare to negotiate your claim payment with the adjuster. The insurance company will likely make an offer based on their estimate of the needed repairs. If you feel that their estimate isn't sufficient, you'll need data to back up your argument. Get a few estimates from independent contractors. If those estimates are in line with your expectations, you can use those estimates to show the insurance company why their offer isn't sufficient.
Having a skilled and experienced insurance agent can also help the process because they can advocate on your behalf during the claims process. Contact a homeowners insurance agent, like Livings Insurance Agency, in your area for more information.