Filing a home insurance claim is not an easy process to start, but it may be a necessary one. When your property or personal belongings are damaged or lost as a result of an insured peril, a home insurance claim can help make things right.
There are plenty of questions homeowners may have before they file a claim. Will their premiums go up if they file a claim? What should they do if the insurance company’s offer is not sufficient? Is there someone who can help them with their claim?
If you have questions about filing an insurance claim, this guide is meant to answer them.
When Should You File an Insurance Claim?
Most of the time, you do not need to worry about an insurance claim leading to an increase in premiums. Insurance premiums are rising across the board due to inflation and rising weather-related risks, but making one claim does not usually raise your premiums on its own.
That said, the claims history of a property is factored into your insurance. You only want to file a claim if it makes sense.
When doesn’t it make sense to file an insurance claim? It makes sense to leave the insurer out of it if the cost is going to be less than your deductible. Your deductible is the amount you have to pay before your insurance kicks in. Deductibles are designed to discourage homeowners from claiming every little expense. Minor damage from a windstorm or hail may not be worth filing if the costs are minimal.
You should also avoid filing a claim on basic upkeep. Your insurance is not meant to pay for natural wear and tear but accidental loss, theft, and damage from weather or natural disaster. If you have not replaced your roof in over a decade, the insurance company can blame your water leak on wear and tear and may not cover the damage.
In the event of a major or total loss, it almost always makes sense to file a claim. Home insurance claims are meant to help you restore your home to its pre-loss state.
Can Someone Help You with Your Claim?
If you have a major claim from a fire, flood, or another natural disaster, you may want someone to help you with your claim. Insurance claims adjusters assigned to files ultimately work for the insurance company. They provide a cost estimate of the damage, but they may underestimate costs or attempt to control them for the company’s benefit.
You can seek assistance with the claim to help protect your rights and interests following the loss, and it may make sense to do so when you experience a major loss. There are several ways an insurance claims lawyer can help you:
- They can explain legal language and complicated terms in your insurance policy.
- They can help you communicate with the insurance adjuster and stay on top of deadlines.
- They can let you know when you may want to push back against the adjuster’s expectations and when it makes sense to meet their demands.
- They can help reassess the value of your belongings and the cost of repairing your home.
- They can help navigate the claims process and negotiate with the insurer.
- They can also handle any legal challenges that come with the claim.
Much is at stake when you experience a total loss. Getting help can be a smart decision in the long run.
What Should You Do If the Insurance Company’s Offer Is Too Low?
If the insurance company does not offer enough money, you can wind up paying out of pocket to complete the restoration of your home or replace all of your belongings. Insurance settlements are not windfalls, but they should provide you with essential funds to get back to normal.
Depending on the details of your policy, there will be costs you have to bear. That includes deductibles and costs beyond your coverage limits or beyond the agreement of your policy.
However, the insurance company should still live up to the agreement in your policy. If you believe the insurance company has underestimated the cost of repairs or undervalued your lost belongings, you can negotiate with the insurance company.
It will be very helpful if you have your own documentation of the damage. It can go a long way toward backing up your claim that the insurance company should pay more.
Filing a major home insurance claim can be stressful. Your future financial health can be at stake, and it can be a confusing process. Get help with your claim to reduce stress and get help negotiating with the insurer.