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Nobody plans for their home to burn down in a fire, or get blown away by a tornado. But if you did have to file a homeowners insurance claim, will you know how to?
Make A Detailed List And Description Of Damage
Make a list of all damages including photographs if possible. Collect cancelled checks, receipts and other documents to help the adjuster set a value on damaged or destroyed property.
Review Your Coverage
You might not be aware that your homeowners policy pays for debris removal, or that both homeowners and renters policies generally provide emergency housing and living expenses if your loss forces you to move temporarily. If you can't find your policy, ask your agent or company for a copy.
Do Not Make Permanent Repairs
Before an insurance adjuster inspects your home, avoid making any permanent repairs. Make only temporary repairs to protect your home from looting or further damage. The insurance company might deny your claim if you make permanent repairs before the adjuster inspects the damage.
If damage in your areas is extensive, take extra steps to help your insurance company's adjuster find you. Make sure your address is visible from the street. Paint your insurer's name, your policy number and your temporary address on a plywood sign.
If possible, be present during the insurance adjuster's inspection and take notes on the discussion. You might want your own contractor/builder present to represent your interests.
Take Good Notes
Take notes on all contacts with your insurance company and adjuster. Your chance of getting a satisfactory settlement improves when you are well-prepared with the facts. Write down names, dates, and who said what. Remember, good records help your cause if you want to complain to the Department of Insurance about an insurance company's decision or contest it in court.
Don't agree to a final claim settlement until you are satisfied that it is fair. You're entitled to obtain independent estimates if you wish.
After major claims events (disasters, storms etc), "public adjusters" offer to help victims pursue their 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 More Than One Bid For Construction Or Repair Work
Try to use a local contractor with a good reputation. Large claims events like storms often attract fly-by-night operators who do shoddy work or skip town after receiving advance payments.
Familirize yourself with your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you know what coverage you have. While you're doing so, take time to compare homeowners insurance quotes to make sure you aren't paying too much for the coverage you need.
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