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How do I submit a home insurance claim?

Home Insurance

By Joanne Lemna | July 4, 2016

Submitting a home insurance claim shouldn’t be complicated. Unfortunately many people are unprepared and struggle with the stress that comes with your home being damaged. That’s why we’re here to help. Here’s how to submit a home insurance claim:

  • Protect yourself and your valuables.
  • Assess and document the damage.
  • Call your insurance company or broker.
  • Make a list of everything that’s been damaged.
  • Meet the adjuster.
  • Get additional documentation as needed.
  • Cleanup begins.
  • Repairs or replacement begins.
  • Keep up commincation.
  • The claim is settled.
  • Remember that your insurance broker is always there to help you with this process or advocate to your insurance company on your behalf. They can help make a difficult time a little easier.

    Step #1: Protect yourself and your valuables.

    Ensure you and your family are safe. If your home is a crime scene of a theft call the police. Emergency personnel may advise if you should or should not enter your home – follow their direction . Only enter your home if it is safe to so.

    If you can protect your valuables. This means securing remaining valuables by taking them with you relocating them in your home or covering them.

    Step #2: Assess and document the damage.

    You may need safety equipment to enter your home safely. Ensure you’re properly outfitted before going in. For example if your home experienced water damaged you should wear rubber boots rubber gloves long pants and sleeves eye protection and a N95 respirator. There will likely be directions available from local authorities.

    The type and severity of damage to your home and belongings will depend on what caused the damage. The damage due to a burglary will be different than the damage due to a sewer backup or a windstorm.

    Here’s how you should assess and document the damage:

    • Take note of the time the damage occur
    • Write down the circumstances of the damage (severe weather type of damage)
    • Assess the extent of the damage
    • Take photos and video of the damage

    If you cannot access your home document the damage from a safe place.

    Step #3: Call your insurance company or broker.

    Report the damage to your insurance company and open a claim. Your broker will also be able to help you with this. Your insurance company will ask you questions and inform you about the next steps in the process.

    Step #4: Make a list of everything that’s been damaged.

    Make a list of everything that is missing damaged or destroyed. If you have a home inventory list already made this is very useful. If not don’t worry. Here are some tips for making an accurate list:

    • Go room by room.
    • Start with big pieces and don’t forget what’s stored in furniture shelves closets et cetera.
    • Work with your family members.
    • Look at pictures or video of your home.
    • Make a general list and then go into detail.

    The more detailed the list the better. Including the model where you bought it price and other information is valuable. You may not have all these details and that’s okay. Just write as much detail as you can remember or have in your records.

    Step #5: Meet the adjuster.

    Once the claim has been filed your insurance provider will assign you an adjuster. Typically you’ll be provided a name and phone number for this adjuster who becomes your insurance company contact throughout the claims process.

    Within the next 24 to 72 hours the adjuster will either contact you or you will be asked to contact the adjuster to set up a time for them to come out and assess the damage.

    Step #6: Get additional documentation.

    Before you meet the adjuster you should have your home inventory list finished. Include as much information as you can – try to find receipts user manuals appraisals warranty information original packaging pictures and video of the items that are missing or damaged or destroyed.

    At this time you may need to fill out official paperwork . The “schedule of loss��? is the official document that you give to your insurance provider that lists all the lost or damaged items in your claim. It includes information about the item itself like the model number when and where it was purchased the cost of the purchase and the replacement amount. It could also include schedule of loss documentation as well as a detailed account of what happened or what you discovered.

    Step #7: Cleanup begins.

    Most home insurance companies include coverage for debris removal. You may have coverage for cleanup as well. If the damage is only minor repairs you may choose or need to do the cleanup yourself. Do not start until your have been given permission by authorities and your insurance company .

    Your insurance company may provide you with a contractor or you may be able to seek out your own. If you want to hire your own contractor you will need to get quotes from different contractors. Keep in mind that any contractor you use that is not recommended by your insurance company will not have their work guaranteed.

  • Cleanup begins.
  • Repairs or replacement begins.
  • Keep up commincation.
  • The claim is settled.
  • Step #8: Repairs begin.

    Repairs will begin on your home. This can take some time depending on the extent of the damage.

    Step #9: Keep up the communication.

    Since every claim is different the timeline for how long before you reach a settlement can really differ from claim to claim and policyholder to policyholder. Just keep in mind that constant communication with your insurance provider is key . If in doubt pick up the phone and call your independent insurance broker; they’re more than happy to help you through this process.

    Step #10: Settle and close the claim.

    As a general rule of thumb your insurer will provide a settlement amount based on replacing your belongings and rebuilding your home. This settlement will be impacted based on the age of the property and your belongings the condition of each immediately before the damage occurred and the property or belongings normal life expectancy.

    Keep in mind however that the amount you receive will be impacted by the type of settlement option that’s included in your policy. For instance if your policy uses actual cash value (ACV) then your settlement will be adjusted based on depreciation. For example if your old TV needs to be replaced you would get the money for a new TV minus the depreciation.

    On the other hand your settlement could use the Replacement Cost (RC) method which provides you with the dollar amount needed to replace a damaged item with one of similar kind and quality without deducting depreciation (the decrease in value due to age wear and tear and other factors).

    Any settlement you receive will  typically exclude taxes and any overhead costs such as extra charges from general contractor when rebuilding your home.

    Once the repairs or replacement has been completed your insurance provider with either provide you a cheque or will pay your contractor’s invoice directly on your behalf. Keep in mind though that you will still be responsible for paying the deductible on your home insurance policy directly to the contractor you’ve hired to complete the work. At this point your insurance provider may ask you to complete a “proof of loss��? form which is a formal document that you must complete in order to finalize and close out your claim with your insurance provider. If you have questions about this form contact your adjuster or yourindependent insurance broker who can answer any questions you may have.

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