Follow these ten tips to get your property/home damage claim paid faster and in full. Your insurance carrier receives hundreds of claims, many of which are similar to yours. As the claims come in, the insurance company triages each claim and categorizes them as easy to pay, deny, investigate, or litigate. Most companies would challenge this characterization of their triage process as overly simplistic. Insurance carriers handle each claim individually based on the policy language, the facts of the loss and the law that applies. Regardless, your job is to get your claim into the “easy to pay” category as soon as possible. You cannot eliminate the need for the company to investigate or adjust the claim, but by following these ten tips, your claim will be paid fully in the shortest time possible.
1) Review your policy
Make sure you have a copy of your policy including the declaration page before your loss occurs. Confirm that the policy was in force on the date of loss. The coverage period is clearly listed on the declaration page. The “dec” page also includes a summary of your coverage, types of coverage and the deductible. Determine if your policy is a typical “all risk” policy or the more limited, “named peril” policy. If it is a named peril policy, review the perils covered to make sure your loss was caused by a named peril. Named perils generally include wind, hail, fire, smoke, lightning, theft, vandalism, and others. If your personal property was damaged, many policies, even an “all risk” policy, provide coverage for contents on a named peril basis. Make sure you know the specifically named peril that caused the damage to your personal property. Determine whether your policy provides replacement cost coverage or actual cash value, which is less. Again, damage to the structure and damage to personal property/contents require a different analysis. Finally, review the exclusions. Even if your loss appears to be covered, it may be subject to a specific exclusion. Knowing what is covered and what is excluded, before you report your claim, helps you present your claim in a way that avoids exclusions and makes it easier for your insurance carrier to allow coverage and pay the claim.
2) Identify the cause of loss
Once you understand what is covered, not covered, and excluded, you are ready to tell clearly your insurance company the cause of loss and to avoid unnecessary discussions about possible exclusion. For example, many policies require an opening in the roof, windows or walls caused by a covered cause of loss before it will consider payment for interior damage caused by wind or hail. If you are reporting a hail damage claim to your roof with interior water damage caused by the now leaking roof, make sure you can describe how and where the hail created an opening in the roof that allowed water to leak in and damage the interior.