If you’ve never been involved in an insurance claim, the process can seem pretty overwhelming. It’s especially difficult to deal with because the very fact that you have a claim means you’ve already suffered a loss of some sort. However, knowing what to expect in advance may help to mentally prepare you for the steps to come. While your insurance company is certainly not out to take advantage of you, there are still things that you need to do to protect your interests and maximize the recovery from your policy. After all, that’s why you buy insurance in the first place!
Once your home or your personal property has been damaged, you will need to file a claim with your home insurance company. This is when your insurance is actually put to the test. Considering that much of insurance is done on a hypothetical basis (since you actually hope to never have to make a claim), it’s likely not a process you are too familiar with. Most insurance companies will provide you with information on how to file your claim, either via telephone or their website.
Once you have submitted your claim, you will be contacted by the insurance company’s claims adjuster to discuss the particulars. This is where you should not be shy about asking questions. For some reason, people sometimes are shy or embarrassed and withhold some information. There’s really no reason to do this since your claims adjuster probably sees hundreds of claims each year. The most important thing is to convey as much information in as much detail as possible. You have an obligation to cooperate with the insurance company in the handling of your claim.
If you are nervous going through the process, just remember that it’s all right as it’s a pretty unfamiliar process. Even after working in the insurance business for two decades, I was still fairly nervous when calling in my first personal insurance claim. I had been on the receiving end of this process when working as a claims adjuster but it was certainly different having to give my own version of the events that led to my claim filing. Thankfully, most claims adjusters are very helpful and want to make the process as smooth as possible.
Something else you should remember is that you are still the insurance company’s customer. When it’s a third party liability claim, the person making the claim is in a position adverse to the insurance company. It can easily get confrontational and lawsuits are sometimes filed. When it’s a first party property damage claim, you are still dealing with your own insurance company. Of course, if you are ever uncomfortable during the process, you can consult an independent public adjuster. These individuals are available to help you file and handle your property damage claim. It usually only makes sense to bring in a public adjuster for very large claims, such as if your home was completely destroyed and you need to rebuild it from the ground up. They charge for their services so you need to consider that aspect as well. However, if you feel that you need an advocate, the public adjuster is your best resource.
After all of your damages are properly documented, you will be asked to sign a Proof of Loss form in order to receive payment. The document is your statement to the insurance company that the damages you have presented are true and legitimate. Before signing the form, make sure that you read it carefully as it’s a legal document and you don’t want to have anything misrepresented. Once that’s done and back in the hands of the insurance company, your claim is settled and you’ll receive your check.
Remember to just take the process one step at a time and it should work out in the end.