I have owned a home for about 9 years and I just had to make my first home insurance claim. I had heard things from some people about how if you make an insurance claim, your insurance premium goes up. Well, so much of that depends on the type of claim and on the type of insurance that I was a little reticent to make a claim. Here are some homeowners insurance claims tips based on my personal experience filing a homeowners insurance claim for roof damage.
To be clear, I am not an insurance representative so my tips are only based on my personal experience. If you have any insurance questions, you should ask your insurance company or you can check Investopedia Guide for answers to common questions.
5 Homeowners Insurance Claim Tips
If the home damage merits reporting the incident to the authorities, like a fire of unknown cause or a break in, do so immediately!
1. Assess Damage
As far as making a claim goes, you first need to determine if there is damage. That may seem like it would be obvious. However, in some cases like roof damage, it may be unclear if you have damage unless you let a qualified professional take a look at it. If you are unsure if there is hidden damage, I suggest going ahead and calling your insurance company. That way you can ask questions and become familiar with their claims process. That is what I did.
If the damage is obvious, you still want to have a pretty good idea of the extent of the damage. In this way, you can answer the questions your home insurance company asks you. Take photos for proof.
2. Call Your Homeowners Insurance Company or Agent
If you are still unsure about if you should file a homeowners insurance claim, go ahead and tell the agent your situation. Ask all your questions. If you are wondering if a claim will result in raised rates, ask the agent.
3. File A Claim
After getting your questions answered, you can go ahead and file a claim or do your homework and then call back to file a claim. They will ask you questions and tell you the what to expect. They will give you a claim number.
4. Be Available
You will likely need to be available to schedule a time for a home insurance adjustor to visit. You will also have to schedule an estimate (or 2 or 3) for repairs.
5. Save Receipts
Don’t get any work done till is is approved and save your receipts to provide to your insurance company.
Filing A Homeowners Insurance Claim For Roof Damage
When I called my insurance company after the storm, they advised me to get a roofer to look at it and then file a claim if needed. I had a qualified roofing professional from Tip Top Roofing take a look and he said there was lots of hail damage and wind damage and he suggested making a claim. I was still nervous about it. You think to yourself, how much will the damage cost to fix and how much is my deductible, then it becomes much more obvious whether or not you should file a claim. In my case, the price of a new roof, which is what the roofer suggested, was much higher than my deductible so I knew I needed to file a homeowners insurance claim for roof damage.
The roofer told me that many people think that your premiums will increase if you file a claim but that it is a common misconception if the damage is due to something that falls under the “act of God clause.” He told me that the premium increases you hear about from weather related incidents operate by zip code. For instance, if many people in your area are filing claims, your premium will increase regardless of whether or not you personally file a claim.
How Are Homeowners Insurance Claims Paid?
Once you establish the damage and decide based on the repair estimate and your deductible if you should file a claim, the only thing left to do is call your insurance company up and file a claim. At that point, each company will work a little differently but mine (Hanover Insurance) asked questions like- date and time the storm occurred, who assessed the damage, was the roof leaking and then they set up a date for an adjuster to come out about a week after my call.
After the adjuster came, the agent said she would email me with the claim information. I never got an email but about one and a half weeks after the adjustor came, I got a check in the mail. My insurance company held back 20% of the claim amount until the work was completed. I then provided them with a receipt and they sent that last 20%.
Keep in mind that insurance companies may work differently so be sure to ask about how insurance claims are paid and be sure to follow the instructions they provide.
I hope these homeowners insurance claims tips and information help you if you ever need to make a home insurance claim!