Oct 15, 2019
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How Do You File a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim?

My parents’ home was badly damaged in a fire. They’re now in the process of trying to get everything fixed, but it has been a hassle trying to figure out who is going to pay for what and when repairs can begin.

My parents filed a claim through their homeowner’s insurance, but I’m not sure how all of this works. I’d like to better understand the process so that I can help them through it. Can you explain it?

A homeowner’s insurance policy will cover claims related to loss of personal property, property damage and some injuries that occur on the premises.

Most policies will cover fire damage as well as damage caused by vandalism, hail and water damage from frozen pipes. Flood damage may or may not be covered, but typically, you have to purchase separate insurance for this peril. Dollar limits vary.

Additionally, homeowner’s insurance should also cover:

  • Loss of or damage to personal property. Typically, policies will pay the actual value or the replacement cost of belongings covered by the policy. The insurance company will require proof of ownership of these belongings as well as their age and value.
  • Accidents and injuries that occur on the property. Most policies cover personal injury claims up to the specified limit. This coverage is usually limited and excludes: trespassers, family members living on the property, the homeowner, minor or children in the homeowner’s care, and home-business related injuries.

The personal liability portion of the policy will cover injury lawsuits, usually up to $100,000 per occurrence.

Now that you have a better understanding of what homeowner’s insurance policies cover, you can start looking into the process of making a claim.

Hopefully, your parents documented the damage from the fire. All of the damaged property should be photographed before cleaning up the scene. These photos should have been submitted as proof to defend your parents’ claim.

Your parents have already been in touch with the insurance company, and the agent should have explained how to proceed. Recommendations for local repair services should have also been given to your parents.

Usually, insurance companies will send insurance adjusters out to the property to determine the cause as well as the total cost of the damage. Their assessment will determine whether the insurance company will accept responsibility and how much you will be reimbursed.

It sounds like your parents may be stuck at this stage. Has an insurance adjuster been to the property to assess the damage yet? Repairs cannot proceed – or at least the insurance company won’t pay for repairs – until after an adjuster has seen the damage. Keep in mind that your parents will still have to pay the deductible even if the insurance company pays out.

Claims can be complex, and the areas damaged may or may not be covered by the policy. This is where things can get tricky.

Your situation is not unique. Dealing with the insurance company is a complicated process that involves countless letters, calls, emails and document submissions. Make sure that your parents are keeping record of all communication and documents. They should also be taking notes of every phone conversation and face-to-face meeting.

Law requires insurance companies to handle claims in a timely manner, so be sure that your parents are holding them to this law.

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