You have experienced a problem that may warrant an insurance claim. Should you tell your insurance company? We are answering all your questions about when to call your insurance company to file an insurance claim after experiencing a loss for a home, business, commercial property, or personal property.
It is in your best interest to make a claim as soon as possible. The sooner you make a claim, the sooner you can start the repair, remediation, and recovery process. However, there are certain steps you may wish to take before filing an insurance claim. First, you will want to take immediate steps to mitigate the loss. Next, you will want to decide whether you want to make a claim at all.
Step 1: RESPONSIBILITY
It is important to note that you have a responsibility to mitigate the loss on your property damage claim. If your property has recently experienced flooding, fire, or roof damage from a storm, then you have a responsibility to limit this damage wherever possible. Put a tarp over your roof after storm damage, for example, or start moving content out of harm’s way after flooding.
Insurance companies expect you to mitigate losses using the resources available to you and the emergency repairs or tasks within your control. You may not be an insurance expert or understand much of your insurance policy, but it is important to know the policy conditions under your duties after a loss. Every insurance policy contract contains this and includes preventing further damages along with preserving evidence of the loss (meaning do not dispose of damaged items). You can spend money to mitigate losses during this step, and the insurance company will typically reimburse you for any reasonable expenses. It is in everyone’s best interest to prevent further damages and failing to do so can result in losses not being covered. Take steps to prevent further damage and ensure your immediate safety. If your house is flooded, for example, then turn off the electricity in that area of the house. If a criminal act such as theft or burglary has taken place – like a break-and-enter – then that act needs to be reported to the police. Call 9-1-1.
Step 2: DECIDE
The next step is to decide whether you want to make a claim. Your business owner’s or homeowner’s insurance is one of those insurance policies that you hope to never use but can be a lifesaver when you need to use it.
First, appraise the situation. Do a visual assessment of the damages. Document everything using your phone or a digital camera and take as many pictures as you can. For an average sized house of 2,000 square feet we recommend taking at least 150-200 pictures. You really cannot have too many pictures. Even if you do not intend to make a claim, it’s always helpful to have visual proof of the damages.
Establish an inventory of all of the items and property that have been lost, damaged, or stolen. Make detailed notes about how, where, and why the damage occurred.
Next, consider the cost of filing a claim. Estimate how much it will cost to repair or replace any of your damaged or stolen property. Remember that you will always have d to pay a deductible, so factor that into the cost. If the incident has caused an estimated $1,000 worth of damage, and your deductible is $1,000, then it may not be worth it to file a claim.
Contractor Assessing Damage to Property for Insurance Claim
If you are unsure how much it will cost to repair the damage to a home or building, consider contacting a professional contractor to assess the damages. Contractors will often provide free assessments. This information can help you decide whether it is worth it to file a claim.
If you have filed a claim on your homeowner’s, business owner’s, or commercial property insurance policy in the past, then you may want to more carefully consider before filing a new claim. Policyholders who make multiple claims in a 5- or 7-year span may be higher-risk, which could make it difficult (or more expensive) to renew your policy. In some situations, you may first want to have a better understanding of how filing an insurance claim can affect your rates.
Of course, if it is a serious incident involving more than $10,000 in damages, then it is almost always in your best interest to make a claim – regardless of how many previous claims you have made.
Step 3: CONTACT
When should you call your insurance company to make a property damage claim or homeowner’s insurance claim? You should call your insurance company immediately after you have decided to make a claim. Keep in mind that the phone call is more than likely being recorded and only state facts that you are sure of and do not make statements of assumptions. Most policies cover “sudden and accidental” damage only and not long term or deferred maintenance related issues. It is always best to let the field adjuster make determinations on site rather than attempt to explain details on the phone.
The sooner you contact your insurance company, the sooner they can send an adjuster to your location and the sooner they can start assessing the damage. The sooner you can get started on repairs and recovery, the better off you will be. Be aware: Insurance contracts contain proof of loss conditions that detail the time frame in which you must notify the insurance company of a claim after a loss, and in many cases, submit proof of loss forms or documentation within a specified time frame.
Once you have decided to make a claim, it is important that you contact your insurance company as soon as possible. With larger claims, timing can be crucial. Your insurance company has staff available 24/7 to attend to your requests. The sooner you contact the insurance company, the less likely you are to experience complications with your claim.
Your Ally is trained and experienced and specializes in helping you navigate the claims process. You do not have to pay a fee to seek our advice and direction. We are available 24/7 and look forward to assisting those that are in need.