It can take a long time to file a homeowner’s insurance policy claim. Small claims may usually be submitted online with most homeowners’ insurance companies.

Nonetheless, if your home has sustained substantial damage or if you are confused as to whether or not your claim would be covered, you should speak with an agent.

In this article, we contacted Legal Grit, a property claims attorney in South Florida, with everything you need to know and answered some frequently asked questions you may have regarding how to file and claim homeowner insurance.

What is an insurance claim?

You have been safeguarded from various risks thanks to the provisions in your insurance policies. Fire, burglary, high winds, and hail are just some of the most typical disasters.

Claim your homeowner’s insurance to get the money you need to fix up your house after it’s been damaged by a covered disaster. Here are the various risks covered by an insurance claim.

Dwelling insurance

This protects the building itself and any permanently attached structures like a garage and any permanent fixtures or appliances.

Dwelling insurance Personal property insurance

From the term itself, this protects your items, like clothes, electronics, and kitchenware, which are protected by personal property insurance.

Coverage for other structures

This includes protection for structures on your property, such as a detached garage, fence, dock, or gazebo.

Liability and medical insurance

In the unfortunate event that someone is harmed on your property, whether by your dog or otherwise, your liability and medical insurance will cover the costs associated with the incident.

Alternative Living Expenses (ALE) Coverage

This helps pay for alternative lodging if you have to vacate your home because of a claim that qualifies for ALE benefits.

Hence, there are several things besides the house itself that are covered by homeowners insurance. You might want to file a claim with your insurer if something happens to your home, possessions, a structure on your property, or a guest staying with you.

Tips for filing a homeowners insurance claim

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You may feel overwhelmed if this is your first time filing a claim. It’s tough to know if you’re doing things perfectly if you lack prior expertise. So that things go as smoothly as possible, here are some suggestions to assist you in filing a claim:

Create an inventory list of your possessions.

Create an inventory of your home’s furnishings, artwork, and other assets. Don’t forget to include photos and as much detail as possible, such as the date you bought each item, its original cost or appraised value, and any other relevant information.

An insurance company’s assessment of the worth of damaged property will be greatly facilitated by a detailed list provided to them. Hence, making and keeping an inventory of your possessions can facilitate filing a claim for property damage.

Ensure a paper trail is kept

Your interactions with the various claim representatives will vary. Make a file to record who you spoke with and what was discussed throughout phone conversations and meetings. Keep all your receipts, including those for temporary repairs and lodging, if your home is uninhabitable until you have reached an agreement with the insurance company.

Make sure you have quotations ready for your insurance adjuster.

Having an estimate of the cost to repair the damage to your home before meeting with your adjuster can be very beneficial. The scope of the repairs and the associated costs can be better estimated if you consult with contractors in advance. You can make sure that your settlement is sufficient to pay the price of repairs by providing documentation of those expenditures.

Don’t lose track of the process while maintaining patience

Make sure you follow up consistently to prevent any unnecessary delays. Be patient, though, because fixing things will take some time. Insurance claims can take several weeks, months, or even years to resolve, depending on the severity of the damage.

Think of hiring a lawyer or public adjuster

A second opinion can be helpful if you are unhappy with how your claim is handled. Consult a public adjuster or an attorney to learn more about your coverage. You have the right to dispute the insurance company’s settlement offer if you believe it is unfair.

How to Make a Claim on Your Homeowner’s Insurance

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Claiming on a homeowner’s insurance policy usually entails filling out claim forms, producing supporting paperwork, and negotiating a settlement with the insurance provider.

If there has been a crime, call the authorities.

As part of the evidence supporting your claim, the police will visit and file a report.

Make a phone call to your insurance company.

The initial step of filing a claim can typically be done over the phone or online. In the aftermath of disasters, insurance firms often station mobile claim centers around affected areas. A claims adjuster will be assigned to your claim and will provide you with a claim number and further instructions.

Keep track of the damage.

Document the destruction with still images and moving footage. Wait for the claims adjuster’s okay before throwing away anything that got damaged.

Carry out maintenance that must be done.

Emergency repairs can be made to keep out the elements and intruders, which are good things to take to prevent more damage to your house. Take pictures of broken items before fixing them, and retain any repair receipts in case of an audit.

Gather estimates

Get estimates from qualified professionals; insurance companies will utilize this data to determine compensation.

Secure the records

Keep extra copies of anything you send to your insurance company. Be sure to jot down the name of the insurance agent you spoke with and other pertinent details you may need to recall later.

Frequently asked questions

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How much will filing a claim affect the cost of my homeowner’s insurance premium?

In most cases, your premium won’t change due to a single claim on your home or personal property. However, insurance premiums can rise directly due to submitting numerous small claims in a short time frame. A rate rise is more likely after a liability claim is filed because of the bigger payouts typical for such claims.

When filing a claim with your homeowner’s insurance, how long does it remain on your record?

To assess the potential loss associated with insuring a home or building, insurers consult the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report. Seven years’ worth of claim data is included in the CLUE report.

How long do I wait for my insurance claim to be settled?

For these insurance claims to be settled, it may take several weeks to years, depending on the severity of the damage and the policyholder’s diligence in following up with the insurance provider. If your home was broken into and office equipment was stolen, but you kept all the relevant paperwork, filing an insurance claim can be simple.

However, the process could take many years if your entire house is destroyed in a fire and must be rebuilt. Until your replacement house is constructed, the claim will remain active.