Filing a claim can be a daunting task, and the road to success can be wrought with obstacles that can throw the unwary traveller offcourse. For many, filing a claim is simply not a common occurrence, and this can make the legalities of the journey even more confounding and oppressive. While each claim is unique unto itself, the fact of the matter is that the process of filing a claim is fairly simple to navigate when you have a general outline of what to expect. Here’s a simple roadmap to filing a claim for your property.
Before You Begin…
We’ve probably all made a call to schedule a routine appointment with our doctor’s office and heard a recorded message about contacting 911 or other emergency services if we’re in a life-threatening situation. While filing property claims isn’t so extreme, it’s important to take similar steps in contacting the police or fire department if necessary before beginning the journey towards the legalities of claims. Handle the situation with emergency responders first (and be sure to collect a copy of the police report if one is filed) before proceeding forward.
Report the Claim
Contacting your insurance agent is the immediate next step and will begin your journey towards collecting for your claim. You’ll want to have the following on-hand:
At this point, it’s likely that your case will be assigned to a representative who will then give you a claims number for your case. During the interim, you’ll need to ensure that you have all necessary details aligned. This includes a room-by-room list with pictures and videos where possible of stolen, damaged or destroyed property. Be sure to include brand name, model number, age, purchase price, place of purchase and replacement cost when you can to ensure that you receive the proper reimbursement. If you can, save the damaged property until the investigation is complete.
Next, your claims representative will collect the details of the claim and explain your benefits. They will likely be charged with a multitude of tasks which could include:
If the property losses are small, then your claims representative may suffice with asking you for a repair estimate, which you can obtain from a contractor. Be sure that all damages are identified at this point, as this is the basis for your total claims amounts.
Organize Temporary Relief
If you’re filing a claim, you’re likely going to feel the burden of the damages before the claim amount is fulfilled. This means that you’ll need to temporarily ‘bandage’ the situation while the claim is being processed. Ensure that your property receives no further damage by temporarily repairing the existing issue. This could mean installing a new lock on your door, covering exposed holes in your roof, or replacing broken securities such as doors, windows, etc. You’ll want to ensure that you keep all of these receipts so that you can be reimbursed for the repairs as well.
During this ‘temporary relief’ stage, anyone who must temporarily relocate to an apartment or hotel will do so while keeping in mind to retain all of their receipts and expenses for reimbursement down the road. This includes meals and travel as well, as they’re considered ‘additional living expenses’. Give your forwarding address to the claims representative if you need to seek temporary shelter outside of your regular address.
The Settlement Agreement
Once a settlement agreement is reached, a check will be issued to you immediately for the claim amount. Certain cases will see an advance on the settlement which can be used to begin paying for repairs and other necessities.