We buy many different types of insurance to protect ourselves and our families. Most adults will enroll in health insurance programs; if you have a car you buy auto insurance; if you own or rent a home you have insurance to protect your property. We buy insurance protections with the hope that we never need to file a claim for an accident, major home repair, fire or theft.
Unfortunately, accidents, mother nature and crime happens to nearly everyone. And eventually, it’s likely you will have to activate one of those insurance policies to help with repairs, legal protections, making your bills during a tough time, etc.. Filing an insurance claim may seem like a simple process, however, when the time comes many people are at a loss for what to do next.
When the circumstances requiring you to file an insurance claim arise, it’s important to know what to expect from the insurance claims process so that you receive assistance in a timely and effective manner so you can get back to living your life.
If you are about to file a claim for damage to your home, rental apartment, in-home business or vehicle, then read this articles and call your insurance agent promptly.
How to File an Insurance Claim
- Know What Your Insurance Policy Covers
The more you know before filing a claim, the better. Everyone should have a basic knowledge of what their insurance policies cover. Are you only covered for collision? Are there exceptions for home office equipment, windshields or upgrades? What are you responsible for paying?
Read your policy to see if your particular type of claim is covered (you may want to call your agent for assistance with interpreting your policy terms). You will also want to determine your policy’s’ deductible*. This is the amount you are responsible for paying to cover repairs, legal fees, hospital bills, etc.. You insurance will only cover incidents outline in your policy which cost more than your deductible.
- Determine If You Should File a Claim
This really only comes into to play with small incidents. If you were in a car accident, FILE A CLAIM! Even if the immediate damages seems less than your deductible, other costs may come later, so be sure to file any car accident.
If you got a minor bumper dent backing into a low wall, your $50 mp3 player was stolen or a stove fire charred your backsplash you may not need to file a claim with your insurance agent since the cost may not exceed your deductible. Shop around for estimates on repairing the damage to see if it exceeds your deductible – if it does, you’ve got a head start on on documentation which is helpful for filing a claim.
- File Your Claim Promptly
If the repair costs exceed your deductible you will want to file a claim. At this point, you will want to call your insurance agent to initiate a claim. Have your policy number available and give your agent a statement regarding the type of incident with any details you can give, and answers any questions to the best of your ability. Your agent may also ask if there is any potential for further damage – say if a pipe burst and it was now threatening to flood your neighbor’s home.
- Prepare a Detailed Document of Damages With Photos, Video and/or Personal Statements
Begin collecting as much information about the incident for which you are filing a claim. Take pictures or video if your claim involves physical damages. Write down your statement of events and gather any statements from relevant parties. And if you have been the victim of theft, pull out any pictures or receipts in your inventory (many insurers ask that you keep an inventory of insured home items in a fireproof place). The more information you can give your agent, the faster and easier it is to file a claim.
- Call the Authorities
In the event of a fire, you’ve probably called the fire department by now. For robberies malicious property damage, car accidents, etc., call the police and file a report. Even for accident in which there are no injuries, it is important to file a report. Officers may take statements from all parties and prove essential for determining fault.
- Don’t Admit Liability, But Be Honest
Don’t say anything that could be interpreted as an admission of fault, but you must be honest about what happened. Too often, casual remarks made during an incident can be used against you in determining which party is liable or responsible for damages.
- Make Temporary Repairs but Wait for Your Insurer for Permanent Work
If you need to tape up a tarp to protect your home or car from further damages, it is acceptable to make temporary repairs. However, it is advisable to wait for your agent or inspector to determine the amount and location of permanent repairs made in accordance with policy terms.
- Save Receipts for Repairs and Living Expenses
If you have to spend money to maintain use of your insured item or have to spend money for housing, food, etc while you home is unlivable, save your receipts in case you are eligible for reimbursement.
- Write Down and Track Your Insurance Claim #
Once a claim is reported, your insurer will open a claim file and give you the identification number. Write down your claim number. Anytime you need to track or discuss issues with your insurer you will reference this number for fast and efficient service.
- You May Be Required to Use an Inspector
Depending on the incident and you policy, you may be required to have an inspector or claims adjuster come out to assess the damages for the insurance company. Be courteous, provide them access to the damage they are there to inspect and answer questions associated with the damage. They may or may not tell you if your claim is approved or denied based on their inspection, but oftentimes you must wait a few days for a report.
If you have any problems with the inspector, during the inspection process, you should document the details of the situation and contact the insurance company to file a complaint. And if for any reason your claim is denied, check to see if the company has an appeal process. If they do, it may be worth your while, especially if the repair is a costly one, to pursue your right to appeal.
The insurance claims process is rarely an enjoyable one, but by understanding more about it you can make sure things go as smoothly and quickly as possible. If you run into problems or are dissatisfied with settlement offer, contact your agent.
If you’ve had an incident or accident and need help filing a claim, call the experience team of professional agents at Atlas Plus Insurance and we will help you get through this tough time.
*Note: Everyone has different deductibles. To save money on your premium, some policies have higher deductibles, while more expensive policies tend to have lower deductibles. Speak with your trusted agent at Atlas Plus Insurance to save money on your policy.