Filing an Insurance Claim: Tips and Things You Should Know

July 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

This may seem, to some, too simple a thing to require direction. However, there are elements of the process that some people don’t know or just don’t think about. If you are about to file a claim for damage to your home or vehicle, this might be a good article to read.

Published by Morgan Summerfield

1. Locate your insurance policy and review it. Some of us have insurance policies that are older and it is hard to remember every detail of the what’s covered and what’s not section. Additionally, you will want to determine your policy’s deductable (the portion of the claim that you will be required to pay). Deductibles have wide ranges. Less expensive policies tend to have higher deductibles. Conversely, more expensive policies tend to have lower deductibles. (The total amount insured under the policy also affects policy cost, so you may still have an expensive policy with a large deductible.)

2. Estimate the amount of damage. If the damage is to your home, you can call a home repair contractor and ask for an estimated cost of the repairs. If it is your car, contact the repair shop you would prefer to use and ask, if they can give you an estimate. You want to try to get FREE estimates. Always ask if the estimate is free or if there is a charge. Shop around. Your insurance company may require multiple estimates. By getting one now, you have a head start on meeting that requirement.

3. Determine if a claim is worth filing. You should not file a claim, if you can determine that the repair costs are within your deductible. For example, if the repair estimate is $420 and you have a $500 deductible. The insurance company will not be paying for any of the repairs, you will. So there is no point in filing a claim. If you file a claim, this creates paperwork for you and the insurance company. Once you create a record of a claim against your insurance company, it stays in your file. Despite what insurance companies may say publicly, claims in your file may have an effect on your future insurance premiums.

4. File a claim. If the repair costs exceed your deductible by more than a few dollars, you will want to file a claim. Usually, all that is required is a call to your insurance company. Before you make this call, write down the date the damage occurred and your policy number. These are two items they will ask for to initiate your claim. Depending on your insurance company, the policy statements and the situation, you may have up to six months to file a claim. However, you should not assume anything. Read your policy. Additionally, if there is the potential for further damage, you should act quickly.

5. Depending on the company and the situation, the insurance company will likely send out an inspector or adjustor to examine the damage and write a report. These inspectors or adjustors work for the insurance company, not for you. Insurance companies don’t like to pay claims and some inspectors or adjustors are incented to deny claims. With this said, if you have a legitimate claim, you should expect to be treated fairly and expect the insurance company to honor the claim. If you have any problems with the inspector, during the inspection process, you should document the details of the situation and contact the insurance company to file a complaint.

6. The first thing to remember about the inspector or adjustor is that he or she is a person…a person who has work to do and the ability to disapprove your claim. Keeping this in mind, when you set an appointment time, be there. Do not keep them waiting. As a matter of fact, be a bit early. If they say they are coming at eleven, be there by ten thirty. Be courteous, provide them access to the damage they are there to inspect and answer questions associated with the damage. Don’t crowd them or “hover,” and stay quiet, unless they have questions. Why stay quiet? Remembering that the adjustor is a person who works for the insurance company and may be incented to deny claims, sometimes an innocent statement or story can send the inspector’s mind down claim denial road. Here is an example of just making conversation that could negatively influence an inspection.

Your roof is damaged during a storm and water has leaked through to the drywall on the first floor ceiling. You would not want to say something like, “I know it is water damage, because my kids overflowed the bathtub last year and it made a spot like that on the ceiling.” Why? While you are not making a claim for the damage caused last year and that water damage is in no way related to the current water damage, you may cause the inspector to become suspicious. Why put your inspection and claim at risk over an unrelated situation? Go Sergeant Friday style, “just the facts, ma’am.” Caution: It is strongly recommended that you ask for identification from the individual claiming to be an inspector or adjustor. In today’s world filled with creative criminals, you cannot be too careful.

Sometimes the inspector will give you a copy of their report, sometimes they will tell you whether the claim is approved or disapproved, sometimes they will tell you that the office will be in contact. Different companies and different policies are processed in a variety of ways. If you are not given an immediate answer, ten days is a sufficient amount of time to wait. If you haven’t heard anything about your claim, call. If for any reason your claim is denied, check to see if the company has an appeal process. If they do, it may be worth your while, especially if the repair is a costly one, to pursue your right to appeal.

republished from Yahoo Voices 

http://voices.yahoo.com/tips-filing-insurance-claim-things-should-3222405.html?cat=17

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