An ounce of prevention isn’t worth an increased premium.
Some people use their homeowner's insurance to fix all kinds of issues around their property. While that's fine, remember that homeowner's insurance is really designed to repair or replace your property in the event of an unexpected major loss.
Filing a lot of minor claims may raise your annual premiums. It's often better to go with a home warranty for smaller issues.
An example of a home insurance claim may be due to a flood in your basement from a burst pipe. Now you'd want to claim coverage for damages to the wall and flooring where water leaked out and other renovation and repair costs. You can also claim personal property loss or damage by the water.
But before you contact your insurance company asking for financial aid, there are some crucial things that you need to consider.
Before filing an insurance claim
- Keep safe - take precautionary measures to reduce further risk to yourself and your property.
- Document the damage sustained by your home or vehicle using your camera. It's one crucial evidence you can show your insurer.
- If you are a homeowner policyholder and you claim insurance, make a list of actual items that are damaged or lost. Never take advantage, though, and be opportunistic. Don't list things you don't own. It's insurance fraud. The insurance company may deny it if they find out.
- If you claim for your vehicle's insurance, take note of the drivers involved, their cars, and their insurance policies.
- Avoid doing repairs alone. Except when you have to fix something right away to avoid further damage, it would be best to leave things to the professionals. May it be a contractor, a mechanic, or the insurance adjuster.
- Discuss with your insurer. They're interested to know the events and what you've done to fix the problem.
These are the common steps you can take before you claim insurance.
Navigating five steps of the insurance claims process
Connect immediately with your broker. Your broker becomes your primary contact about your insurance policy. Insurance brokers should understand your circumstances and what to do next. After you give your broker a detailed list of the actual items that were damaged or lost, together with the photos and videos you may have to help explain the circumstances, your insurance adjuster will reach you to proceed with the claims process.
Claim investigation begins. After the claim was reported, the insurance adjuster will need to investigate the amount of loss or damages covered by your insurance policy. Your claim for insurance will then be given careful consideration. The adjuster will also determine for any responsible parties. You can help speed up the process by giving any witness information or contact information of the other party.
Your policy is being reviewed. When the investigation is done, the adjuster will review your policy and carefully examine the coverage under it. He will then inform you of any appropriate deductibles that you will have to make on your end.
Damage evaluation is conducted. To evaluate the extent of the damage or loss accurately, your adjuster may employ engineers, appraisers, or contractors to lend their advice based on their expertise. Your claim for insurance may undergo this process for you to be given options. Once it is complete, your insurance adjuster will give you a list of preferred vendors for the repairs. You're not obliged to hire these vendors, but selecting one of those preferred vendors will save you time and research.
Payments will be arranged. After completing the repairs and replacing the lost and damaged items, your insurance adjuster will reach you regarding your claim and due payment settlement. It will depend on the severity and complexity of your circumstances the amount of time it would take for you to receive payment.
You want to claim insurance if the situation calls for it. But after three years of no insurance claims, you may qualify for a claims-free discount, which will be 20% off your premium. You may not be eligible, though, for the claims free discount for three years when you claim regardless of the amount.
Additionally, you may be required to hold off on other insurance claims from moving forward to keep the premium from increasing further. It's both a choice but a risk. A broker can help you, so you can take advantage and try to reach out.
The broker's role is to enlighten you with the insurance claims process, what you will expect throughout, and always be available for the client's queries. When you claim insurance, the broker needs to explain the process of insurance claims initially, especially if you're a first-time claimant. Furthermore, it would also be critical for brokers to carefully explain the process during natural calamities, where insurers' resources are maximized.
How long will it be to process an insurance claim?
It depends on the extent and complexity of how slow or fast the insurance claim process will be. For instance, you may opt to have your vehicle towed to another city because you are already familiar with the vendor or mechanic. However, the paperwork, communication, and lack of direct contact slowed the process down. If the client doesn't agree to the settlement offer or the spare parts are still in transit, you can also consider timeline extensions. Natural disasters, such as floods, can also affect much when you claim for insurance and its processing.
To expedite the claims processing, you may have your details ready and know your facts. Also, work with your insurer. Follow the needed recommendations, especially when you have injuries that result from the claim because it will be your family members that will need to ensure that essential documents are duly signed.
The bottom line
To experience the easiest way for a smooth claims processing experience, be prepared. Know and understand your policy. If you have any questions, ask them. Always take inventory of your essential hard copies digitally, so you can still have the soft copies when calamities fall. Explore some add-ons to your policy and check if it's right for your circumstances.