Written by Paul Steele
Don't Panic! Claims happen every day. If you have a good agent and are with a good carrier, you will be properly taken care of.
First you will need to know if the damage is "claimable" or worth filing a claim. The best person to help you assess this question is your agent.
Here is a quick guide to help you through the claim process:
- Call your agent to discuss what has happened. They can help put the claim into perspective on a large to small scale. Unless the claim is large, I usually tell my clients to get a bid before submitting a claim.
- Take pictures and gather information. For example: for an auto claim, witness information and statements (either signed or recorded) are essential to prove that a loss occurred.
- Call the insurance company. Some carriers require the insured (you) to call in the claim while others require the agent to turn it in.
- Once a claim is communicated with the carrier an adjuster will be sent to perform a thorough inspection of the damage and gather any missing pieces of information. That adjuster may or may not work directly for the carrier, which should not affect the report but is still important to know.
- You should expect a call from the adjuster within 24-48 hours. A more immediate response is often possible and does happen with excellent companies, but it is essential to remain flexible in a non-emergency. During disasters like floods or tornados numerous claims are reported, and those that involve injuries or deaths take priority.
- Before you can begin repairs to the damage, the adjuster must take pictures and file a complete report. HOWEVER, you should do whatever is reasonable to keep the damage from worsening. For example, if you have experienced roof damage cover the roof with a tarp.
- The adjuster will ordinarily have recommendations for reliable and trusted vendors or contractors. If you do not have a preference, I would encourage using one of their suggestions because it may simplify your experience. If you do have a favorite body shop, vendor or contractor though, feel free to let the adjustor know. Together they will work to figure out the details.
Your agent understands how important your home is to you and will do everything in his or her power to help you through the claims process.