Making an insurance claim can be a difficult and lengthy process. After a major loss, including fire, flooding, or natural disasters, your insurance coverage should help you replace lost belongings and make critical repairs to your home.
#1 Preparing Your Claim
Preparing and submitting your insurance claim is crucial to making the process go smoothly and getting fair compensation from the insurance company. There are several parts of the claim that you will have to pay attention to:
- Contents: You will have to show the insurance company what belongings you have lost using a Schedule of Loss. This list can include where you bought these items and what you paid for them. You may also need to provide evidence, such as video footage of damaged belongings. Sometimes the Insurance company will hire a vendor to help with the creation of the list, as well as valuation. Often this does involve your input since they were your belongings.
- Structure: Typically, an insurance adjuster will assess the extent of the damage done to the structure of your home and allow preferred contractors to bid on the work. You may want to document damage to your home yourself with photos or video in case you disagree with the adjuster about the extent of the damage.
- Additional Living Expenses: These are typically covered afterward, and you will need to present receipts showing expenses, such as hotel costs, rental costs, and food, gas, or storage costs above and beyond your typical expenditure. It is important that expenses claimed as ALEs are reasonable. There is no guarantee that every receipt will be reimbursed once submitted. The insurance company will often outline what a reasonable period of time to submit receipts for is. It is important to be mindful about this.
#2 Managing Your Budget During a Claim
A home insurance claim for a major loss can take a long time to conclude, in some cases up to two years. Even after the claim is settled, you still need to wait for the repairs to be made to move back into your home.
During this period, you will have to be careful about budgeting. There will be additional costs you have to face, such as getting rental housing until your home is safe to inhabit again. You can request a cash advance for Additional Living Expenses from your insurance company right after the loss, but you should also pay attention to your ALE coverage limit. You do not want this to run out before the home is repaired and you can move back into it.
#3 What If Your Claim Is Rejected or Undervalued?
Finding out that your insurance claim has been rejected after a major loss can be life altering. You can wind up facing substantial costs on your own without your insurance company backing you up. Even an offer from the insurance company that will be too little to cover the full costs of repairs can leave you deeply in debt.
If you are unsatisfied with the results of your claim, you may be able to dispute it, but it is time to get help. Insurance lawyers like Virani Law can help you navigate disagreements with the insurance company. They can review your claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and, if necessary, navigate and represent you through the dispute resolution process.
You do not need to wait to get help from a professional with your insurance claim. Getting help earlier on can make the process run much more smoothly. However, it is not too late to get help if you have already received an offer or even had a claim rejected. With that said, time does play a factor as there is a two year limitation period in which you can file a lawsuit, if needed. If you are at a point where you may need to pursue legal action, be mindful of the two-year deadline from the date the loss occurred.
A well-prepared claim is the best way to avoid or deal with disagreements. Careful budgeting will alleviate some of the financial pressure to accept a substandard offer, and you can always hire an insurance lawyer to help you negotiate with your insurer if you are not receiving a fair settlement as per your policy coverage.