Understand Your Homeowners Policy Before You Need It

The majority of homeowners never have to file an insurance claim. But, if you live in an area where severe weather is common, your chances of needing to file a claim increase significantly. Knowing what to do before a hurricane, tornado, hailstorm or massive snowfall hits your home can make filing a claim much easier after a natural disaster strikes.

In Advance of Your Homeowners Claim

Know what your homeowners policy covers before you have to use it:

  • What is your deductible? How much will you have to pay out of pocket?
  • Who do you contact – what phone number do you call?
  • How quickly should your claim be reported?
  • If your home is so badly damaged that you can no longer live in it, will your policy pay for a hotel or short-term rental?

Additionally, know how your policy treats incidental damage, such as that caused by fallen trees. For instance, some policies might cover damage to your flowerbeds or driveway, but the insurance company may not cover the cost of getting the tree out of your yard unless it has also caused harm to your house.

After Disaster Strikes

Document the damage. Take photos. Do not throw away damaged items until after an adjuster has reviewed everything.

Save any receipts for essential repairs made before the adjuster shows up. For example, if you pay someone to board up a door or window while waiting for the adjuster, make sure to document that expense.

Follow the rules. File your claim within the required period. And hold your insurer to its own responsibilities—the insurance company also has to follow state-mandated rules, such as how soon it provides you with a claim form.

Understand the role of the adjuster. The adjuster is the person who comes to your house to survey the damage and gather information that will determine the cost of repairs. The goal of an insurance adjuster is to settle your claim as inexpensively as possible. He or she may offer you a cash settlement on the spot (an illegal ploy if you have a mortgage), suggest that you hire a handyman rather than a licensed general contractor to estimate the cost, personally offer to perform the repairs or tell you that the damage really isn’t all that bad. If you are at all concerned that your offer is not in your best interests, get a third-party estimate from a licensed contractor and push back.

Talk to an Independent Insurance Agent

An independent insurance agent sells homeowners coverage from many companies. You can depend on such an agent to get you the right coverage at the right price.

Take steps to protect your home and your peace of mind before it’s time to file a claim. Contact us, your independent agent, today.

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