The entire purpose of purchasing an insurance policy is to be protected in the event of a loss. However, risk management does not end with purchasing a policy. The next step is to become acquainted with the claims process and prepare in the event of a substantial loss. From documenting belongings to communicating with the carrier and understanding the time frame of the process, there are easy ways to attempt to get through the claims process efficiently, and hopefully quickly.
A key component to any claims process is being communicative with the carrier. When the carrier has to chase the insured for information or for any other reason, a red flag is raised.
Also, being prepared for the process by promptly taking pictures of the damage will help the claim reporting process as well as obtaining any estimates from contractors to repair the damage. If the claim involves personal property, documentation must occur before a loss. Free home inventory software is provided by knowyourstuff.org, a site ran by the Insurance Information Institute. The truly prudent would endeavor to review their inventory at renewal every year. Finally, the property claims process is generally quicker than a liability claims process, if supporting documentation and a thorough claim is filed.
With property claims resulting in damage to the physical property an insured should take pictures of the damaged property and report the claim to the insurance company (or agent) immediately. Give all the information that could be recalled. A claimant’s best bet is to make the initial report as complete as possible. When taking losses into account, be sure to include all costs such as lost pay from missing work, any alternate living costs, as well as time, labor and materials to fix the actual damage. This is especially true if the claimant is reporting directly to the agent. The agent needs to prepare a notice of loss form. The more complete the form is, the easier it is for the insurance adjuster to do his or her job, and pay your claim.
After the initial report, the claimant should make it a priority to remain in contact with the carrier/assigned adjuster, and document every interaction with the adjuster until the claim is settled, including emails, telephone calls, mailings, etc.. Obtain the claim number, the adjuster’s name and contact information and keep it with the claim documentation. The homeowner should attempt to meet the adjustor or any inspectors, as the homeowner can provide any detailed information the adjuster/inspector needs. After inspections, a homeowner should call the adjuster regularly for updates and continue documenting the communication.
When speaking to the adjuster, remember he or she works for the insurance company. With that being said, be sure to only answer the questions the inspector asks. Don’t freely give up information he or she isn’t seeking. Always remain honest, but only speak to what the adjuster is asking for.
The claims process can be a daunting process and it could be difficult to keep all of these tips in mind while going through it. If you are insured through a top-notch agency, your account manager will be able to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have and, if needed, speak to the carrier on your behalf.