Home insurance and the insurance claims process can be complicated to understand. But knowing your policy and what events it covers, like property damage from a natural disaster, is very important.
Sidestepping the common home insurance claim mistakes, like the ones below, could save you money and a major headache when you need to file a home insurance claim.
5 home insurance claim mistakes to avoid
- Not reading your policy
- Not taking inventory of your personal property
- Waiting too long to file an insurance claim
- Cleaning up without documenting the damage
- Filing insurance claims too often
You can also head to Credible to get a better understanding of the different types of home insurance coverage. Click on Credible's home insurance partners to get a free home insurance quote.
1. Not reading your policy
Insurance policies can be confusing, but reading your policy documents is crucial. According to Angat Saini, principal lawyer and founder of Accord Law, you need to understand your entire contract, including its coverages and exclusions.
He explains, "Failing to read or understand your policy’s coverage could have some serious consequences when filing a claim, and you may run into delays or other costly issues throughout the process."
Filing insurance claims for something that isn’t covered can drive up your rates in the future and leave you high and dry.
If you’re getting tripped up by the jargon in your policy, Saini recommends speaking with your agent, who can help you review your policy and ensure you get the right coverage.
If you think you're paying too much or don't have the right insurance coverage, head over to Credible to have a look at other insurance providers and options.
2. Not taking inventory of your personal property
One of the biggest home insurance mistakes comes before you ever enter the claims process: not taking stock of your belongings.
Gary Germer, an estate and personal property appraiser at Gary Germer & Associates, advises taking pictures of the inside of your home, cabinets, and closets to help with proof of loss.
"Armed with pictures," he says, "you can jog your memory and be able to make much more complete lists. I recommend clients do this once a year."
For valuable items, Germer suggests working with an appraiser to give you and your insurance company an accurate estimate of their actual cash value and estimated replacement costs.
With different coverage amounts, it’s important to shop around to find the right home insurance plan that fits your needs. Visit Credible to start the process and maximize the value you gain from your homeowner’s policy.
3. Waiting too long to file an insurance claim
Charlie Wendland, head of claims at Branch Insurance, cites putting off filing an insurance claim as the biggest home insurance mistake you can make. "In the event that a tree falls on your home or of a catastrophic loss, making sure you and your loved ones are safe comes first. The next step is to file the claim," he said.
The claims process, he explains, is quick and easy and "will ensure you’re complying with your duties to report the claim timely under the policy."
While you may have up to a year, you shouldn’t delay filing. The sooner you file an insurance claim, the sooner you can start repairing home property damage and replacing your belongings.
Having enough insurance is vital. Having the appropriate insurance coverage is just as important. To ensure your home insurance is suitable for your circumstances, visit Credible to check out plans, providers, and costs.
4. Cleaning up without documenting the damage
A lot of homeowners rush to clean up the mess left by a storm or a fire before documenting the property damage. However, Dan Barrett, Vice President of Plymouth Rock Assurance, suggests you take stock first.
His advice? "Take plenty of photos and make an inventory of damaged items. If temporary repairs are needed to make the home safe, try to document the damage before it is repaired."
Pictures, receipts, estimates, and damaged property can all serve as proof of loss evidence to help get your insurance claim approved.
5. Filing insurance claims too often
Whenever you file a home insurance claim, it is added to the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE).
"Even if nothing is paid out, multiple inquiries show the insurance company that you are highly likely to make a claim and can count against you when shopping for competitive pricing or better insurance," explains Duncan France, a State Farm agency owner.
To avoid filing insurance claims unnecessarily, he recommends speaking with your agent first and considering whether smaller claims are worth filing.
"Losing a claim-free discount and being subjected to a surcharge will almost always cost you more than just paying a small claim yourself if you have the means to do so," says France.
Make sure you are not overpaying for home insurance. It’s free to check online through Credible’s partners.
How to successfully file a home insurance claim
Filing a home insurance claim can be stressful, especially if you’re reeling from significant property damage to your house.
There are a few steps you can take to help the claims process run smoothly. Before you file anything, read your policy and create an inventory of your personal belongings.
If your home is damaged, and you need to file a claim, be sure to document the damage and initiate the claims process quickly (with the caveat that you’re sure a claim is worth it).
And if you want to make sure you’ve got the best coverage possible, explore pricing and find the right home insurance plan that fits your needs on the Credible marketplace.
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