What are the chances of your home getting damaged by a tornado, earthquake, fire, or hurricane? Though Texas, Louisiana, and Florida are the top states in the country that are usually hit by major natural disasters, you can still be affected by the wrath of Mother Nature any time, whatever state you are living in.
Over the past years, insurance companies have paid billions of dollars in property damages to policyholders. This is probably why some insurers today are looking for ways to lessen their losses by denying claims, leaving homeowners no options but paying the bills. Some even write policies with exclusions to save them from paying certain damages.
Practical Tips On Property Damage Insurance Claims
Though you are protected by laws as a policyholder, try taking these steps to make sure you will get paid when filing a property claim:
Make Sure to Document your Holdings
While it’s most important to keep track of the condition of your home, never forget to watch out for your belongings, too. Make it a habit to document them. Get your phone and take photos or videos of your electronics, appliances, furniture, even your home’s physical features, and everything that has value inside your house. One of the best ways to keep these is to email them to yourself to avoid losing them.
Remember to pay attention to documenting architectural details because some insurers could turn down claims for wear and tear. For instance, if your roof is in poor condition and gets blown off during a storm, they could say it was not maintained and won’t pay for the water damage. On top of these, keep records of previous repairs and maintenance you’ve done to your windows, roof, siding, and other home features so you can prove to them that they were in good condition before the disaster happened. If possible, take photos of these records in case you lose the hard copies.
After the destruction, check every bit of damage because insurers may deny claims that you discovered later. Ensure that you document all of these and let your insurance company know immediately, especially if the damage is extensive.
Fix What You Can to Avoid Further Damage But Leave the Evidence Untouched
You can board up broken windows but don’t clean up until the insurance adjuster arrives. Never throw out damaged belongings so they can be examined and recorded by the insurer. For example, a ruined carpet after a pipe burst can be a moldy mess, so resist the urge to let it go until the adjuster gets there and tells you to dispose of it. Or better yet, let the restoration company of your choice do their job to clean up and restore whatever is left in your home.
Moreover, if you have to live in a hotel or a rental apartment for a while, keep your receipts. These expenses must also be reimbursed.
Consider Working with a Public Adjuster
If the damage is big, you may want to hire a public adjuster. Public adjusters work for policyholders and not the insurance company. Usually, they have a deep knowledge of the insurance industry or have worked as contractors or engineers. They are paid with a percentage of your claim, in most cases, from 5% to 15%.
They will prepare objective estimates and explain the severity of the losses to the adjuster while helping you negotiate with the insurers. Make sure to understand what you’re entitled to.
What to Do When All of These Fail?
If your claim is turned down, the best thing you could do is lodge a complaint with your state regulator. If you can, hire an attorney to look at your denial letter. If your claim is successful, it will not cost you too much money.