How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim for DIY Repairs

Danika Miller
Danika Miller
Staff Writer

Let’s say you’re a pretty handy person and have decided to repair some carpeting that was damaged by a burst pipe. Since you aren’t hiring the work out, filing a claim for the cost of repair is a little different. The most important thing to remember is that you should talk to your insurance company BEFORE you start doing your own repairs and filing a claim. It’s up to your insurer to decide if you’re allowed to do your own repairs. (We’d also recommend you check with your mortgage lender for permission to do the repairs yourself.)

The Claims Process for DIY Repairs

The claims process for doing repairs yourself may vary slightly depending on your insurer, but it typically follows these steps:

  1. You inform your insurance company of the damage to your home.
  1. A claims adjuster visits and creates an estimate for the damage.
  1. Your insurance company issues a check for either the actual cash value, or replacement cost value, depending on your coverage.
  1. Insurers may require detailed estimates from multiple contractors, even if you aren’t using them for the repairs. This includes estimates for everything from the equipment and tools you’ll need, to any time your family have to relocate because of the construction.
  1. Your insurer may require proof that the repairs were completed.
  1. The insurance company will issue a check for any remaining costs to cover the full repair (as predetermined by the adjuster).

Can you keep an insurance claim check and do the work yourself?

It depends on your insurance company’s particular policies and the complexity of the repair. In some instances, you can simply keep a claim payout and do whatever you want with the money. In other instances, you will only receive the full claim amount after you’ve provided evidence of the repair. And if you’re fixing the damage on your own, the insurance company may even require some level of supervision. There are also local laws to consider. Some repairs may require a permit from your city or a license. For instance, for electrical work cities will almost always required the repair be done by a licensed electrician. Ask your insurance agent about your particular policy and claim, and consult local city laws before you start repairs.

Are DIY repairs cheaper for a homeowners insurance claim?

It depends. Sometimes you can stretch the compensation money further by doing the repairs yourself. The insurance company will compensate you in the same way they would if a professional was doing the work. If you happen to be savvy and skilled enough to come in under budget, you can likely keep the leftover money (you’ll need to ask your insurer, though). This also means that if you take longer or need more resources, you may not be compensated for that. And if your repairs fail, you may be denied a claim on them in the future because a professional didn’t do the repair.

If the damage is minor, you may be better off not filing a claim at all. Claims can increase your insurance rates and cost you more money down the line. Before filing a claim, consider the difficulty of the repair and the cost to fix it out-of-pocket.

How long does it take to get an insurance claim check?

There’s quite a bit of work before an insurance claim check can be issued. Including a visit from a claims adjuster, a few quotes, and even some bargaining. Once you’ve settled on an amount with your insurer, it could take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to receive a check. If you’re facing damage that makes your home unliveable, relocation costs should be accounted for in your compensation, though some insurers will issue an initial amount immediately and send you the rest later on. Some states have laws about how quickly an insurance company must settle claims, and usually require that you receive your check within 30 days.

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About the Authors

Danika Miller

Danika Miller Staff Writer

Danika Miller is a writer for Over the last three years, she has covered Insurance and other topics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in creative and technical writing from Western Washington University.