4 Things You Should Do If You Have a Property ClaimJune 13, 2019
Most people don’t really have a clear idea of the steps that they should take when they experience damage to their property that could ultimately result in an insurance claim. The reasons for this are likely multi-faceted. But, one reason is that many people have never gone through the experience before. As first-time claimants, they oftentimes don’t know where to “start”.
Property claims range from minor to severe and everywhere in between. Regardless of the scale of the claim, the situation can be stressful. Keeping in mind the following basic list of things to do following a claim is a great way to keep your claim on track and get your property repaired as quickly as possible. Here are a few things you should do if you have a property claim:
1. Take Photos
Having photos of the loss may not be totally necessary depending on the type of loss or the specific claim situation. For instance, your agent may come out to the scene and take photos for you or the insurance company may immediately send out an adjuster to get photos and start the loss settlement process. In other circumstances, the contractor or remediation company may take their own photos to submit to the insurance company with a repair estimate.
Still, for multiple reasons, it is good practice to get your own images. The first reason is that sometimes an adjuster or a restoration estimator misses some of the damage and it doesn’t get included on the estimate. In these cases, you may have to ask for an adjustment to the claim, in which case a supplemental claim will usually be filed. Having photographs of the damage is helpful in these circumstances so that you can verify the damage that occurred and show that the omission on the first claim filing was in error.
If something is missed by an adjuster or the contractor estimator, it more often becomes a simple adjustment than any kind of claim dispute, but situations can arise where it is important and beneficial to have photos if additional claims arbitration is required. Especially in circumstances where damages have to be mitigated before the settlement process, photos taken before the process of clean-up occurs can be very useful to adjusters.
2. Preserve the Property
In the event that the claim has not resulted in a complete loss of the insured property, such as may happen in a total fire loss, you will need to start the process of preserving the rest of the property that has not been damaged by the claim. You may need to hire a contractor or an emergency remediation service for this, depending on the scope and scale of the damage.
For example, if you have a pipe burst in your home and it floods your finished basement, your insurance company will pay for an emergency restoration company to come out and remove flooring, drywall, and other materials so that a dry-out can occur quickly before mildew and mold can grow that could further damage your home. It is hard to conduct this work for most homeowners because it requires industrial dehumidifiers and typically some light demolition.
Likewise, if a tree falls on your home and takes out part of the roof, you will likely need to call a contractor to both remove the debris and put a temporary covering on your roof. Without taking appropriate steps to shield the home against subsequent rain events or rain damage to the interior of the house, the first claim may be denied because of an unpatched hole. This is a good example of the homeowner’s responsibility to preserve and protect the rest of their property from further losses.
3. Call Your Agent
One of the best reasons to buy insurance through an independent agent is that you have someone to help you through a claim situation rather than having to resort to calling a 1-800 number. This not only gives you a point of contact to find out about claim updates, if needed, but it also gives you an advocate during the settlement process if you think that a claim, or part of your claim, is being denied in error.
Your agent can also walk you through the next steps that you should take in the claim process and submit a claim for you to reduce the burden of having to contact the insuring company directly while you have other stressful things to deal with in regard to the claim. Helping you through a claim situation is one of the best ways that an independent insurance agent can add value to your relationship with them and provides them with an opportunity to earn your business and loyalty for years to come.
So, make sure you contact your agent to receive the full benefit of the services you entitled yourself to when you bought your insurance policy from them!
4. Make a List
Along with taking photographs of damaged property, it is a good idea to make a list of the items lost or damaged in the claim. This is especially important to do in the case of total losses to property as often may occur in the case of a fire. Ideally, you will have already kept an inventory list of the items in your home or business in a separate location. However, practically speaking, it is rare that insurance buyers do this, especially when it comes to an individual’s home insurance.
It’s Not Required, But It’s Helpful
An inventory list isn’t required to receive payment for the personal items in your home after a total fire loss, but it certainly makes the claim process a lot easier. If you haven’t made an inventory list before a claim occurs, start one as soon as possible afterward. While it is hard in the event of a severe claim to mentally slow things down enough to think clearly and create a list of your assets, it is easier to remember all of your items if you start a list sooner rather than later.
Make Updates as Needed
In general, businesses will often keep a property list and, depending on how they have items insured, they may already have these pieces of business personal property scheduled on their policy. However, if they are insured on a “blanket” basis, coverage may be available for items that aren’t listed or acquired since the last inventory list was updated. For this reason, it is good practice for businesses to review their inventory lists and make amendments if items lost or damaged in a claim weren’t previously included on that list.
The reality is that when a claim occurs, it is probably going to be one of the worst days you’ll have. The severity of claims is certainly variable and some are more devastating than others. Regardless of the magnitude of the loss, it is likely to leave a lasting memory. Having an insurance policy in place doesn’t change the fact that you’ve experienced a loss, but it does help you to put the pieces of your business or personal life back together more efficiently, and with a far less financial burden.
Following these things you should do if you have a property claim can help you to find your way through a claim. And, with the help of a licensed independent insurance agent, the process can be as easy as possible. Remembering that you’re not on your own in the event of a claim is important and it can provide you with some peace of mind even after the unthinkable has happened.
If you would like to talk to one of our agents about a claim or need to find insurance coverage following a recent property loss, give one of our experienced agents a call at 1-800-537-6880 or 717-665-2283.
Disclaimer: Information and claims presented in this content are meant for informative, illustrative purposes and should not be considered legally binding.