Most of my posts on this blog deal with auto insurance. The primary reason: that is when people need an attorney. I started handling insurance claims almost 20 years ago. In that time, the number of people I saw retain an attorney on a homeowners claim is less than 50. Conversely, people hire attorneys on car accident claims all the time.
But, I want to give you some information on how to handle a homeowners claim. So here are 5 tips that I think you should know before you need to file a claim for fire damage, a theft, water damage, or any other claim on your homeowners insurance.
1. CONTACT THE INSURANCE COMPANY
If you have had a theft, fire, water damage, or other claim, notify your insurance company immediately. Unlike auto claims, where I say you can wait 24 hours, with homeowner claims the wait can cause more damage. Call your insurance company NOW!
2. DOCUMENT YOUR CLAIM WITH PICTURES
Take pictures of everything. Take pictures of the damage, the non-damaged property, the cause of the claim (i.e. the fire, the point of entry for water, any holes in the roof) and the rest of your house. You may need them later.
3. CALL YOUR OWN CONTRACTOR
Yes, the insurance company will recommend a contractor. However, it is important that you get your own estimate or two. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
4. BE PLEASANT
The insurance adjuster is not your friend. However, the adjuster is a person and you should treat him or her that way. Being pleasant can make a world of difference.
5. GET OUT YOUR PRE-EXISTING INVENTORY
If you are saying “I don’t have one” then go out right now and videotape everything in your house. As you do this, tell what it is, where you bought it, when you bought it, how much it cost, and any other details you remember. Now, go lock the video tape in your safe deposit box. After a claim, show it to the insurance company.
While there is no guarantee that this will make sure your claim runs perfectly smoothly, it will go a long way towards helping you with your claim.