Home Insurance Claims Guide

Home insurance claims are never fun. Having your home damaged can be stressful. Going through the insurance claims process can also be stressful and confusing.

This page helps remove the confusion and get you the answers you need. We break down all the information you need in filing a home insurance claim.

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Home Insurance Claim Process

Sometimes it isn't safe to enter your home after it's been damaged, especially if your home has extensive damage. Do not go back inside your home until you've been cleared to do so by emergency services.

This is to protect you and your family. 

When your home has been damaged, the last thing you want is for more damage to occur. This is why we want to mitigate any further damage. 

Call emergency services such as fire departments, plumbers, water mitigation companies, etc, if needed to stop further damage from occurring. 

Make sure any openings or damage to your home wont result in further damage. If you need to repair yourself or pay someone to do so, hold on to the receipts to turn into your claims adjuster. If your claim is covered, you'll be reimbursed for those expenses.  

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Most every insurance company is available 24 hours a day.

The 1st person you speak with will likely not be a claims adjuster, they are just the information gatherer. They'll take the information you have and assign a claims adjuster to your case. You can expect the claims adjuster to reach out within 24-72 hours. Unless it's an emergency type situation where time is critical. In that case, they will reach out ASAP. 

A list of claims phone #'s is listed below. You can search for your insurance company's name and phone #. 

Using photos or videos can help you remember things that you may have lost. If you don’t have an inventory, look for photos of the damaged areas. You’ll want to make a list of everything damaged inside your home. 

When making any necessary temporary repairs or living arrangements, protecting property from further damage or making temporary housing arrangements, be sure to save your receipts. Your insurance company may ask you to provide them as part of the claim process.

The claim professional typically will call you to discuss what happened, what your insurance policy may or may not cover and make arrangements to inspect the damage in person.

It's important to allow any contractors or professionals working on your home repairs to be in direct contact with your claims adjuster. Doing so will allow your claim to run quicker and more efficiently. 

Trying to play middle-man and not allowing the two parties to talk directly will only confuse and prolong the claims process. The sooner you put your contractors and insurance adjuster in contact, the sooner your claim can be resolved. 

Once the claim adjuster determines that your policy covers the loss, you can generally expect to receive a check based on an estimate of the damage, either on the spot or soon afterward.  

Once the damage is repaired, you can submit proof and recover your depreciation. 

Depreciation is a way that insurance companies make sure you use the money paid out to actually fix your home. Typically they'll hold back a certain percentage of payment until you can provide proof that all repairs have been completed. Once this proof is submitted and approved, the insurance company will release the remaining funds and you can pay the professionals that completed the work. 

Let's look at an example to illustrate whey the insurance companies do this:

Sally had a hail storm roll through her neighborhood, causing damage to her roof. She filed a claim and received a $15,000 check to repair the roof. 

Sally decided to take that money and buy a new car instead of repair her roof. 

3 months later another storm rolls through. Because the roof is damaged, water gets inside the home, causing $50,000 in damage. 

Now Sally wants to file another claim for the $50,000 in damage. This isn't fair to the insurance company. If she would have actually repaired the roof with the $15,000 then the additional $50,000 in damage would have never happened. 

This is why the insurance company holds back depreciation. 

Home Insurance Claim FAQs

  • When your home has been damaged, the last thing you want is for more damage to occur. This is why we want to mitigate any further damage. 

    Call emergency services such as fire departments, plumbers, water mitigation companies, etc, if needed to stop further damage from occurring. 

    Make sure any openings or damage to your home wont result in further damage. If you need to repair yourself or pay someone to do so, hold on to the receipts to turn into your claims adjuster. If your claim is covered, you'll be reimbursed for those expenses. 

A home insurance claim will stay on your record for 3 to 5 years, depending on your insurance carrier. 

This is why it's so important to only file claims that are large and catastrophic. 

Most companies will drop you if you have more than 2 water related claims within a 3 year period. This means you'll have to go to the secondary market to find a policy. These policies are generally more expensive and provide less coverage. 

It's important to note that your home insurance premium will also increase during those 3 to 5 years that your home insurance claim is on your record. 

Depending on your state and the insurance carrier, a home insurance claim could count against you. However, for the most part, so long as the claim shows $0 paid out, you should be okay and not see an increase in premium. 

It's important to note that ANY claim you file, even if you cancel it out or it's denied, will show up on your insurance record. This is why you should consider the whole situation, before you call and file that claim. Once you make that call, you can't take it back!

In almost all cases, yes, your home insurance premium will increase after a claim. Even if the claim is not your fault, such as a tree falling on your home, your premium will most likely increase. 

Insurance companies look at data to determine your insurance rates, and the data shows that once you've had one claim, you're more likely to have another. So although it may not seem fair that your insurance premium increases because of a claim that isn't your fault, that's how insurance companies operate. 

Please note that your premium will not increase until your policy renews. So if you have a claim in March but your policy doesn't renew until October, you wont see an increase until October. 

With most insurance carriers, you have 1 year to file a claim on your home insurance. Of course, as soon as you're aware of the damage to your home, you should let your insurance company know. 

However, there are often cases where it's not possible to let them know right away. In many cases the damage to your home may not even present itself for a number of months. 

Check with your individual insurance company and contract to see the time limit. However, most insurance companies will give you at least 1 year. 

Yes, you can always cancel a home insurance claim. A main reason for doing so would be because you realize after that fact that the damage to your home is insignificant and not worth continuing with the claim. 

Generally, when you cancel an existing home insurance claim, it will stay on your record, but it will show a payout of $0. 

A claim showing a payout of $0 will generally not count against you and raise your rates. However, there are cases and certain insurance companies that will still hold that against you and raise your rates because of it. 

This is why it's important to only file claims that you are sure meet the criteria of a proper claim. For more information on how to know if you should file a claim or not, check out this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OBVTOEillk

The depends entirely on the specific claim. Some claims can be easily taken care of and other claims will take months to resolve. 

If the damage is straightforward and simple, you could easily have a check from the insurance company within one week of filing the claim. 

However, if the damage is significant and there are many moving pieces and professionals dealing with the claim and repairing damage, then the claim process could take a few months. 

The important thing to remember is to be as responsive as possible to your claims adjuster and get them the information they request ASAP. Doing so will help move things along quickly. 

I most cases you can keep the home insurance claim money, however, it's not a smart idea to do so. 

Most companies will hold back a portion of your money for your home insurance claim. This is called depreciation. The insurance company will hold this money until you can prove that repairs have been made on your home. 

The insurance company wants to ensure that you made the repairs. If you fail to make the repairs, it becomes more likely that damage will occur at your home again, damage the insurance company doesn't want to be on the hook for. 

Because of this, it's best to simply make the repairs that the insurance company sends you a check for. 

Yes, in most cases a hail damage claim will raise your home insurance rates. This is true with most ANY claim that you file on your home insurance. 

This is a little different from claims on your auto insurance policy. Generally, claims filed on your auto insurance policy that are not your fault, will not raise your premium. 

However, with home insurance, this is not the case. Each scenario is different, but most every claim filed on your home insurance policy will raise your rates. This is why it's important to only file necessary claims. 

 

You can check your home insurance claims history by asking your current insurance company for a "letter of experience" or a "loss history report". This is a report that is available to you for free. You just need to request it. 

What To Expect After You File Your Home Insurance Claim

  • Timeframe. Every claim and situation is different. Every insurance company is different. This means the length of time to resolve your claim will vary. It's important to work closely with your claims adjuster as they will be able to better give you timeframes as it relates to your specific claim.  
  • Making Repairs. Most professionals will be willing to start work on your home before you give them payment. Usually they will just want to verify that you filed a claim and the claim will be approved. Once they know that, they generally will start work on your home. Then, once the check is delivered, you can make arrangements to pay them. In many cases, the insurance adjuster will work directly with the professional fixing your home and pay them directly. This way you don't have to get involved and play middle-man. 
  • Receiving payment. Once the claim professional determines that your policy covers the loss, you can generally expect to receive a check based on an estimate of the damage, either on the spot or soon afterward.  
  • Depreciation. Once repairs have been made, you can submit proof to your claims adjuster. Once this proof is received and approved, they will release the depreciation and you will have been made whole again!

Claims Inventory Spreadsheet

Download and use this spreadsheet to account for all your personal property in your home. Doing this BEFORE a claim will save you time and headaches come claims time. You'll be able to easily pull up this spreadsheet and supply it to your claims adjuster. 

Claims Contact Information

Check here to find your insurance company and their claims contact information. Most every insurance company has a claims department that is available 24/7/365, so you can call and file a claim at any time. If it's an emergency, don't wait, call and file a claim right away. 

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