Severe weather is a frequent in North Texas and Rowlett has experienced its’ share in recent history. We all know and have seen that severe weather can do significant damage to your home and possessions. A damaged home is never fun but having to make a claim on your homeowners insurance policy can make a frustrating time even more difficult.
While making a claim on your policy can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be a bad experience if you are prepared before the damage occurs. In this article we will cover a few tips on how to make the claim process go smoothly and make sure you are paid fairly for all of the damage your Rowlett property has suffered. Of course, if you are our client, please call us and we’ll help you through every step of the claims process.
Steps to Take
Contact Your Insurance Company: One of the very first things you should do is contact your insurance company as soon as you have determined that your family is safe and your home is secured. Contacting your insurance company alerts them to your claim and makes sure that they send an adjuster out to your home as soon as possible to review the damage and process your claim.
Another reason to quickly alert them is the fact that some insurance companies only allow you to make a claim after a major disaster for a short period of time. If you wait too long they may deny your claim, which will leave you on the hook for some major expenses. The claim window varies by insurance company so check your policy but filing your claim as quickly as possible is always the best option.
Never hire a contractor and let them start work before you have made a claim with your insurance company. If repairs are started before you file a claim or an adjuster has reviewed the damage, your claim may be denied.
Video and Photos are Key: Documenting the damage to your home is key to a successful claim. Providing your adjuster with photos and video of the damage will ensure that your claim is paid out fairly. Take photos and video as soon as it is safe. Use a variety of different angles to make sure you document all the damage.
Share the videos and photos with your adjuster when they come out to review the damage.
Secure Your Home Quickly: Securing your home as soon as it is safe is necessary for your claim to be processed. Insurance companies require you to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your home. As an example if your roof has been damaged or windows blown out you must cover them so that rain or other weather does not cause additional damage to the home. If you fail to secure your home quickly it is possible that your claim will be denied.
Never climb onto an unsafe roof to make temporary repairs. If it is unsafe, hire a professional.
Alert the Police: Not all claims are related to severe weather. If your home has been burglarized or vandalized you will need to call the police to have them come out and issue a police report. You will need a police report for your claim. Make sure that the property that has been stolen is listed on the report and forward the police report to your insurance company as soon as possible.
Always Keep Receipts: You should always keep your receipts for anything that has to do with your claim. This applies to property you are replacing as well as expenses for hotels, food and any other expenses you incur if your home is too damaged to live in while repairs are being done.
Always Keep a Current Home Inventory: A home inventory will ensure that you are fairly and fully compensated for all of your lost or damaged property. Keep a complete and up-to-date home inventory, there are numerous apps that will help you put together an inventory. Make sure that you store your inventory offsite or in the cloud so that it is available if your home is destroyed.
Your inventory should include photos and videos of your possessions as well as serial numbers if possible and the price you paid for each item. If you have receipts that is even better.
Things to Avoid
Filing Small Claims: Homeowners insurance should always be saved for major claims. Every time you make a small claim your premium will be headed up and if you make numerous small claims in a short period of time your insurance company may end up canceling your policy. Only file claims for major damage.
Don’t Sign Over Your Benefits: This relates to a scam that is hitting Florida hard and has been popping up in Texas as well. Less than honest contractors, especially roofing companies have been asking homeowners to sign a form called an Assignment of Benefits (AOB). This form puts them in charge of your claim including the payment process. In some cases, shifty contractors request payment from the insurance company before doing the work or they may do sub-par work and then bill your insurance company for payment.
Consider an Appeal: If you are unsatisfied with your settlement amount it is possible to appeal. Insurance companies are legally required to give you an explanation of the settlement amount and if you disagree, you can appeal.
Provide as much documentation as possible when appealing a claim amount. Provide estimates regarding the damage. If you are still unsatisfied or your appeal is denied you can contact the Insurance Department in Texas to file a complaint or hire a lawyer and have them negotiate with the insurance company.