Tips for Making Homeowners Insurance Claims
You buy insurance coverage for your home, paying rising premiums year after year. When you finally need to make a claim, you assume your insurance company is just going to pay what you think it should. Unfortunately, it’s usually not that easy. In fact, it can be like pulling teeth.
You should remember that the reason insurance companies are so profitable is because you pay them a lot of money for a long time, and they need to do nothing in return. So, when you need to file a claim against your coverage, they aren’t very anxious to let those profits go. Working with an attorney experienced in dealing with insurance companies can save you time, energy, and headaches. Moreover, most of the time, you will get far better results.
At Arnett & Arnett, PC, we know how difficult insurance companies can be to work with. That is why we have been dedicated to helping clients in Chandler, Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and throughout Arizona get the benefits they deserve from their homeowners insurance when they need it most. If you have the coverage, we have the leverage.
What Are Common Homeowners Insurance Claims?
There is an abundance of stories in the media about homeowners insurance claims for damage and destruction of homes due to natural disasters, such as flooding and wildfires. These two causes are usually not standard coverage in a homeowners policy and are often cost-prohibitive, depending on where you live.
There are, however, many types of claims that are fairly standard. Among the most common is damage to your home caused by fire, smoke, lightning, wind, hail, heavy snow, and water from faulty plumbing and freezing pipes. Your policy will probably also cover incidents such as burglary and vandalism.
Insurance policies can be confusing and filled with exceptions to coverage. It can be difficult to even know what is and is not covered under your policy. Having your own insurance attorney review your policy is a smart move.
When Should I File a Claim?
If you suffer damage to your property, even if it is covered by your homeowners policy, you need to weigh some factors before contacting your agent to make a claim. That’s because making a claim may cost you more than just paying for the damage yourself.
This is not unlike deciding whether to file a claim against your auto insurance coverage. For example, your windshield gets a rock chip. You can pay $50 out of your pocket to have it repaired right away, before it gets any larger. Or, you can pay $50 out of your pocket because you have a $250 deductible, plus your insurance company raises your premium because you filed a claim.
Your claims history is accessible not only to your insurer you make the claim with but to other insurance companies as well for up to seven years. Insurers use your history to assess their risk in insuring you. That does not necessarily mean none of them will insure you, but you may pay dearly for the privilege.
You should avoid filing a claim against your homeowners policy for damage due simply to the wear and tear that occurs over time and with use. Insurance is designed to help you recover after an unusual event, not because you failed to maintain your property as you should have.
Of course, if your property suffers major damage, you will want to file a claim. You may want to contact your attorney first to have your policy reviewed and to let your attorney file the claim on your behalf. The adjuster will know from the outset that they’re working with an experienced insurance lawyer and not just a homeowner who has never made a claim before.
What Are Some Useful Tips for Making a Homeowners Insurance Claim?
If the damage is due to burglary or vandalism, contact law enforcement immediately. You will need a report to pursue a claim. You will also need an inventory of what has been stolen.
Consult an insurance attorney to review your policy, your premium and deductible, and the damage to your property. Your attorney can help assess whether the damage is covered, the value of your claim, and the pros and cons of filing a claim.
Once your agent is contacted, an adjuster will be sent to assess the damage and put a price tag on it. Gather any documents you have regarding improvements you have made to the home and receipts demonstrating maintenance of your property.
Take photos of the damage as soon as you discover it. The adjuster will take photos, but you will want to have your own.
If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender owns an interest in the property. Contact your lender to advise them of the damage and provide a claim number.
Make any immediate temporary repairs to secure your home and keep the receipts for the work and supplies. For example, if part of your roof has blown off, you need to get the exposed area covered with tarp so you don’t suffer further water damage inside the home while waiting for the permanent repair.
Keep all documents during the claims process in one easily accessible place.
Insurance companies may respond slowly to a claim, so don’t tolerate periods of silence. You may need to stay on the agent and adjuster. If you have legal representation, your attorney will do this for you.
Do not accept any offer from the insurance company or sign anything until you have an attorney review it. If the insurer is not willing to settle for a fair sum, you can file a lawsuit against them.
Trusted Guidance When You Need It Most
Your insurance company may indeed fail you at the time you need it most. Your attorneys, however, will not. At Arnett & Arnett, PC, our mission is to help our clients get the benefits of their insurance coverage that they deserve. Clients in Chandler and throughout Arizona have trusted us to guide them with their homeowners insurance claims. If you want trusted guidance for your homeowners claim, call us today to schedule a consultation.