Have you just filed a homeowners insurance claim, but aren’t sure what to do next? If so, then you might benefit from working with an insurance claim advocate, someone who can help you get the most out of your insurance claim and make sure that your insurer pays your claim in full and on time. In this guide, we’ll go over what homeowners insurance claim advocates are and how they can help you through the process of filing a homeowners insurance claim.
Prepare an inventory
In order to recover from a natural disaster, or even just a severe weather event, your first step should be documenting what you own. Take pictures and/or videos and make sure you have an inventory handy of all your possessions, including serial numbers for items that require them. With homeowners insurance claim advocate help from professionals who know exactly how much each item is worth, having that information up-front will ensure you don’t settle for less than what’s yours. If you can’t afford to do it on your own right away, consider hiring someone on a contingency basis; if they’re successful in helping you get more money back on your insurance claim than expected, they get paid by taking a percentage of whatever amount they were able to increase.
Protect your property from further damage
After a natural disaster, it’s important that you protect your property from further damage while you wait for your insurance company to assess your claim. If no damage has been done, it’s an easy task. However, in a case where there is flood or fire damage in addition to other things, such as busted pipes or burst tires, cleanup can take days and even weeks. The best way to protect your home and belongings is by setting up a Do Not Enter zone around your house and keeping everyone—including family members—out while you let professionals handle any additional work that may need to be done. This will ensure that nothing is damaged before insurance adjusters get there.
Secure your possessions
Contact your homeowners insurance claim advocates as soon as possible following an incident. There are many details that need to be handled quickly, including appraisals and payments, and acting quickly is crucial. You should also do everything you can to secure your possessions. Although you may feel like protecting your home is more important than securing possessions, there’s a chance that if you don’t secure items such as jewelry or collectibles immediately after a burglary, they could be damaged by water or other elements before anyone can help you clean up. It’s best to contact a loss-prevention specialist for advice on how best to protect these items and others in your home; if you don’t know who handles loss prevention for your insurer, get in touch with them directly and ask about their policies regarding claims assistance.
Declare Everything on Your Insurance Claim
Be honest on your insurance claim and make sure you include everything you want covered. Even if it seems like it’s a small detail, always remember that an insurance company is just trying to avoid paying you as much as possible. If they know about something, they will surely try to make their case that it isn’t necessary for them to cover that aspect. Make sure you take pictures before and after a loss occurs, so you have proof of what was there beforehand in case someone tries telling you otherwise later on. Also, be sure to keep all receipts if any work needs to be done (e.g., replacing damaged items) or if materials need replacing (e.g., buying new sheet rock). The more information provided with your claim, the better!
Deal with the adjuster directly
When you call your insurance company, they will likely assign you an adjuster. This person will be in charge of evaluating your damage and handling all negotiations between yourself and your insurance company. If you have an advocate on your side, he or she should handle most communication with them for you—but it’s important to keep tabs on what’s going on and ensure that communication is happening as needed. Be sure to remind them when deadlines are coming up (adjusters are notorious for missing these) or if there’s anything else you think they should know about. For example, if they ask how you plan to fix something, let them know whether you plan to do it yourself or hire professional homeowners insurance claim advocates. Keep in mind that not all claims require a licensed contractor; some only require a licensed electrician or plumber. You can also negotiate with your insurance company directly, but many people find it easier to have an advocate do so for them. This way, you won’t need to worry about understanding complicated contracts and can focus on rebuilding after disaster strikes instead.
Dealing with contractors
The first step in filing a claim is understanding what you’re looking to recover. Think about your house as an asset, and think about its value. Determine how much money it would take for you to replace your property with what it had before. If possible, create a detailed list of all items that are damaged or destroyed and replace them with their cost new—not used. This will help make sure you don’t get short-changed in your settlement negotiations. It also means that if an insurance adjuster tells you something is worth $500 when it’s really only worth $300, at least you can refer back to your list and say, No—that’s brand new on my list. That’s why I listed it at $500. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
Dealing with roofers, carpet cleaners, home inspectors etc.
When you file a homeowners insurance claim advocates, it’s likely that you’ll need to deal with multiple vendors. If a tree fell on your house and left a gaping hole in your roof, for example, you’ll likely need to work with a home inspector and then an insurance adjuster. The same goes for any damage caused by fire or water. As such, it helps if you know what types of questions they’ll ask and how they can help. Understanding these people will help make things go more smoothly in your insurance claim and might also save you money at some point down the road (like when shopping around for coverage). Here are six things to keep in mind about dealing with roofers, carpet cleaners, home inspectors etc.: An important note about hiring outside contractors is that your homeowner’s policy typically covers them. In other words, if a contractor working on your property damages something while doing so (say they break a window), then you won’t have to pay out of pocket unless there’s an exclusion written into your policy (for instance: vandalism). Similarly, be aware of what kind of sub-contractors companies use. You may want to confirm their liability coverage before signing anything or giving them access to your property. If someone working for them breaks something, then who is liable? Are there exceptions written into their contract?
Estimate what you need for repairs and replacements
Before you begin repairs, figure out what type of repair or replacement is needed. This will make things easier when it comes time for a contractor estimate. If your roof has been damaged by wind, for example, an asphalt roof will need to be replaced with one made from wood or metal. If your homeowners insurance claim advocates was flooded because of a broken pipe, you’ll likely need both heating and air conditioning systems checked out as well as carpets cleaned. With an idea about what needs repairing or replacing in your home, take these estimates with you when talking to contractors. Then ask how long each project could take and get several bids so that you can pick and choose which contractors offer the most value for money when it comes time for repairs or replacements.