Filing an insurance claim can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has put together the following tips to help policyholders facilitate the process:
- Know your policy – Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. Know the terms of that contract, including what’s covered, what’s excluded and the amount of any deductibles.
- File claims as soon as possible – Call your agent or your insurer’s claims hotline as soon as possible. Your policy might require notification within a certain time frame.
- Provide complete, correct information – Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
- Keep copies of all correspondence – Write down information about your telephone and in-person contacts, including the date, name and title of the person you spoke with and what was said. Also, keep a record of your time and expenses.
- Ask questions – If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the insurer for the specific language in the policy that explains the reason why the claim was settled in that manner. If this disagreement results in a claim denial, make sure you obtain a written letter explaining the reason for the denial and the specific policy language under which the claim is being denied. If you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement, you should contact your state insurance department for assistance.
- Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage – Your auto/homeowners policy might require you to make temporary repairs. If possible, take photographs or video of the damage before making such repairs. Your policy should cover the cost of temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Also, maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect.
- Don’t make permanent repairs – An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before the damage has been inspected.
- Try to determine what it will cost to repair your property before you meet with the claims adjuster – Provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made to your property. Ask the claims adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.
Don’t rush into a settlement – If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If you have any questions regarding the fairness of your settlement, seek professional advice.