What to Do When You Have an Insurance ClaimJanuary 25, 2018
Smashed glass, picked locks, damaged or missing items – these are some of the first things people notice right before filing an insurance claim. When life comes at you, it comes at you fast. During a crisis situation, it can be tough to discern what you need to do as quickly and efficiently as needed. To smooth out the process, here is a guide for the next time you find yourself in the position of filing an insurance claim:
1. Take a Deep Breath
Realizing a thief has broken into your home and rifled through your things is highly stressful. As is totaling your car, enduring a natural disaster, or finding your property vandalized; these, and many other horrific scenarios, often result in filing an insurance claim to protect yourself and your finances.
It’s difficult to maintain emotional control during these nightmarish situations; however, it is critical to try to stay calm. Research shows that stress negatively impacts memory, so for an accurate recollection of events you must try to reduce your stress levels. Taking deep breaths and shifting your focus to factual information are key to remaining calm despite dire situations. Compartmentalizing is a very effective stress reduction method, and does wonders for recollection. Likewise, having the composure to write down events in order to maintain an accurate timeline and document events through photographic evidence are also actions that will prove to be invaluable.
2. Contact the Police
Depending on the event, and the circumstances surrounding it, you may need to contact the police. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether to call the police or not. A good rule of thumb: if the law was broken, call the police. Ultimately, if you’re still unsure, just give them a call to be thorough. After obtaining as much information about the event as you can, dial the police to make a statement.
The statement you provide will be indispensable for the future of your claim. In addition, some jurisdictions require a police officer to be at the scene in order to make a statement. The good news is you can be proactive while you wait.
3. Notify Your Insurance Agent
As you wait for the police to arrive at the scene of the accident or event, call your insurance agent. Describe what happened in great detail and refer to your notes if you have them. Send over the pictures, and wait for any instructions your agent might have.
Your insurance agent will be able to break down the intricacies of your coverage and identify what information they may still need to submit a claim on your behalf. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have, he or she was trained for this. Your insurance agent will answer your questions with patience and understanding.
4. Retain Damaged Property
Your instinct will likely be to get rid of or repair any damaged property immediately. In most cases, it is best to leave everything as it was when you found it. If you contacted the police, they will need to take a look before you move anything. (In the case of auto accidents, use common sense, and if your vehicle is able to be safely driven to the side of the road, you should do so.)
Remember that the contractual language in your insurance policy requires you to preserve undamaged portions of the property. This means if a portion of your roof is damaged, for example, you should take reasonable steps in hiring a company to cover the damaged portion of the roof, so as to protect against subsequent water damage to the interior of your home.
Depending on the type of loss you have incurred, your insurance agent may come to the scene to take photos or send an adjuster to survey the damage and move the process forward. Once the police and the insurance company have completed their documentation, you will be able to begin the steps to have the damage repaired or property replaced.
Everything is Under Control
Remember: after you make a statement with the police and file your insurance claim, the majority of the paperwork and claims settlement documentation will be handled by the insurance company. Trust your insurance company to do its job, most property claims are settled relatively quickly. However, if you feel that you need a progress report, or feel that your claim settlement was issued incorrectly, keep in mind that one of the advantages of working with an independent insurance agent is that they can help mediate difficult claims situations between you and the insurer. If you have any insurance needs or questions, contact us today or give us a call at (717) 665-2283 or (800) 537-6880.
Disclaimer: Information and claims presented in this content are meant for informative, illustrative purposes and should not be considered legally binding.