A home insurance claim details a covered loss that unexpectedly occurs in your home, such as a fire or break-in. The claim tells your insurance company what happened, what was damaged, and how much money they need to reimburse you to repair the damages.
You should be prepared to file a home insurance claim immediately after a loss occurs. Before filing a claim, it helps to know what your policy covers, how much coverage you have, and what your deductible is.
Anytime you make a home insurance claim, it gets added to your CLUE report. A CLUE report is a document that lists every property insurance claim you’ve filed over the last 5-7 years. Home insurance companies use your CLUE report to review your claims history and calculate your rate.
How to File a Home Insurance Claim
- Notify your insurance company: After a loss occurs, notify your insurance provider as soon as possible. Ask them if the loss is covered, what your policy’s limits are, and what your deductible is. Keep in mind that if your deductible costs more than the loss, it’s likely not worth filing a claim.
- Submit claim documents: Next, you’ll be required to fill out and submit documents detailing the claim. These documents will be sent to you by the insurance company. Fill out the forms soon after you get them when the event is still fresh in your mind.
- Survey damaged items: When it’s safe, walk around your home and survey the damages inside and outside. Make a list of areas of the home that were damaged, like the siding, roof or yard. Also make a list of the personal items inside your home that sustained damage.
- Meet with an insurance adjuster: Depending on the extent of the damages, you may be required to meet with an insurance adjuster. An insurance adjuster will visit your home and assess the damages in-person. Show them which parts of the home were damaged and offer them a copy of your list of damaged items.
- Make small repairs yourself: After your visit with the insurance adjuster, make small repairs yourself that could potentially cause further damage. For example, remove debris from the yard, patch broken windows, etc. Keep your receipts so you can get reimbursed from your insurance company.
- If you have to stay in a hotel, track your expenses: If you have to temporarily relocate and stay in a hotel, save your receipts. This also goes for food and restaurant expenses. Your home insurance policy’s additional living expenses coverage will reimburse you for those costs.
If a crime is at the root of your claim—theft, burglary, vandalism—contact the police first. Not only do you need to report the crime, but a police report (plus the names of the responding officers) will help you file your home insurance claim.
How to File a Claim with Renter’s Insurance
Renters insurance doesn’t cover all the same things as homeowners insurance, but it hits three big ones: personal property, legal costs arising from lawsuits against you, and medical payments to anyone injured on your property who doesn’t live there.
If anything occurs on your rented property that has you thinking of making an insurance claim, you should contact your landlord first. The property management is on the hook for structural repairs in most jurisdictions. If they can resolve the problem without needing to make a claim, all the better. Like home insurance claims, renters insurance claims are recorded in the CLUE database.
After consulting your landlord to find out what remaining losses will roll over to your renter’s insurance coverage, get on the phone with your agent. But remember that the rules still apply: Be sure that your claim is worth more than the expense of jacked-up premium and a lingering claims history.
What happens if your claim is denied?
There are a few common reasons why your home insurance claim might be denied.
- Negligence. The insurance company may find that the claim could have been avoided altogether if you had seen to routine maintenance, like repairing a worn-out roof or cleaning your oven.
- Not covered peril. Flood insurance, for example, is a point of coverage a lot of people think they have but don’t. Ideally, you should know before filing a claim whether it’s a peril covered by your policy. It’s better to know before you file because home insurance claims are recorded in a database accessible by all insurance companies. Because too many claims is a red flag for insurers, you don’t want to add to the claims list under your name unless you’re sure you’re going to be reimbursed.
- Too much time lapsed before filing a claim. There’s a statute of limitations when it comes to filing an insurance claim. The time limit varies between companies but you don’t want to risk it; get claims in stat.
If you believe that your insurance company has wrongfully denied your claim, arm yourself with greater evidence and hire an independent appraiser. Then, resubmit your claim with more information.
Does Homeowners Insurance Go Up After a Claim?
After filing a claim, you can expect your homeowners insurance premium to increase. It doesn’t matter how minor the claim was, or how much money you received from the insurance company.
However, your insurance rate won’t increase immediately after a claim. It’s only during your policy’s renewal period that your insurance company will review your claims history and make rate adjustments.
If you’re concerned about your rate going up after a claim, talk to your insurance company about ways to lower your premium, like raising your deductible or taking advantage of discounts.
- Cause of claim
- Total cost of claim
- Number of claims filed within the past ten years
- State of residency
Homeowners Insurance Claims FAQ
Can you keep homeowners insurance money?
If you don’t use the entirety of your homeowners insurance claim check on repairs, the balance is yours to keep. So long as yours is the only name on the check, the money is free for you to use at your discretion.
Are claims payouts taxable?
Broadly speaking, insurance lines for which you pay the premium aren’t taxable. Claims payouts from either home or auto insurance don’t need to be reported as income; they are simply reimbursements for expenses.
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