4 things to know before reporting a loss to your insurance company

October 16, 2014

When it happens, it can be devastating: your property has been damaged by a natural disaster. How do you report the loss to your insurance company? What are some steps to take? When can repairs start?

After a natural disaster like a tornado, flood, or fire, you’re already overwhelmed and stressed. Your first priority is to ensure your family is safe and secure. Dealing with the insurance company seems farthest from your mind at this time. However, eventually you will have to report the loss.

4 things to know before reporting a loss to your insurance company

How to file a claim

Whether it’s your home, vehicle, household items or other personal possessions, if your property has been damaged or destroyed you need to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. However, navigating through the insurance claim process can be stressful and confusing. Here are some helpful tips:

Prevent further damage to your property
After your property has been damaged, one of the first steps to take is to prevent further damage. Cover broken windows, secure broken doors and remove debris out of areas people may walk to keep you and your property from sustaining any more damages.

Don’t throw away damaged property
You might be tempted to start cleaning up and throwing away damaged property. Don’t! You need to wait until your adjuster arrives to survey the damage and make accurate calculations of your loss. It's important for the adjuster to see everything as it sits.

Document the details
It’s vital that you collect as much detail about the situation as possible. Make lists of any lost or damaged items in your home. Take photos or record videos as proof for your claim. Locating old receipts or owners’ manuals can also help with larger, more expensive items in your claim.

Report the claim
Report your loss to your insurance company. You can do this yourself or through an insurance broker. A broker can help you figure out your exact coverage, review details of the property damage, and advise you on the paperwork to be done.

Your claims adjuster visit

Once the insurance company has received your claim, a claims adjuster is assigned to you and sent out to assess your losses. The claims adjuster will inspect the damage with an in-person visit and provide paperwork. Once your property damage has been assessed, your adjuster will then advise you on how to conduct repairs and replace belongings.

Third-party inspections

A third party inspection may be requested by your claims adjuster to inspect the losses and provide estimates for repair and replacement costs. Your adjuster will likely have a preferred appraiser you can use or you can hire your own contractor. Get copies of these third party inspections for both your files and for the insurance company.

What the insurance company will pay

Once your adjuster reviews the costs of repairs and replacements, they will decide what amount your insurance company has to pay. Preferred suppliers and contractors of your insurance company will be available as options for the repair work you need. These vendors will meet your insurance company’s standards. When repairs are completed and lost items replaced, the insurance company pays the invoices while you are responsible for the deductible.

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