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Unfortunately, sometimes the unthinkable happens to the best of us. A storm knocks a tree onto your home. Your hot water tank breaks, flooding your basement. Your dog bites a party guest. A burglar breaks in and gets away with a number of valuables. When events like these occur, you might consider filing a homeowners insurance claim to help pay for that damage, liability or sudden loss. But how do you know when to make that call? Here’s how you can figure out whether or not to file a homeowners claim and 4 steps to prepare for the process.

Filing a homeowner’s insurance claim shouldn’t be complicated. Learn when and how to put in a claim when the unexpected happens.

Get Your Ducks in a Row

You should always prepare for the unexpected, before it happens. This includes calculating the value of your home and its contents. Creating a video or photo home inventory of your valuables can make a huge difference in how smoothly the claims process goes. It is best to save that content in a fire proof safe or in a digital format in the cloud so it will be accessible should damage occur to your home.

Include things like:

  • 1. Model and serial numbers for more expensive electronics and equipment
  • 2. Receipts for valuable purchases, such as furniture and jewelry
  • 3. Records and receipts for renovations, if you own your home

Consult Your Agent

Once you have an estimate of what your belongings are worth, check in at least once a year with your insurance broker or agent to ensure you have enough insurance. If circumstances have changed—like you got a dog, remodeled your home or acquired expensive jewelry or furniture—you might need to increase your coverage.

It’s also helpful to ask your agent to explain exactly what your insurance covers and any limitations. You’re probably aware that homeowners insurance covers fire damage and theft but, depending on what policies you purchased, you also may be able to make a homeowners claim for weather-related losses, flooding or bodily injury should a guest be hurt on your property.

Do Your Homework

You should always ensure you understand exactly how your policies work. When you meet or speak with your insurance broker or agent be sure to verify:

  • 1. How much you pay annually for insurance
  • 2. How much is your deductible, or the amount you pay out of pocket before an insurance company will pay the claim
  • 3. What number to call if you need to make a homeowners claim
  • 4. How long after an incident do you have to file a homeowners claim
  • 5. Whether you’ll be covered for the costs of temporary living expenses if your home is uninhabitable

Doing your homework upfront to understand this information will help you decide whether it’s worthwhile to report a future loss to your insurer or to cover the damage costs yourself. Compare the value of your loss to your insurance deductible and any annual premium discount.

Be Ready

If you think you should file a homeowners claim, then it may be worthwhile to call your insurance company’s claims hotline. Someone will take note of the basic details and your contact information, likely send you online or to an app to fill out forms, then may send an adjuster to your home to interview you and inspect the damage.

Be prepared to show:

  • 1. Time and dates of the loss
  • 2. Where damage occurred
  • 3. A complete list and value of all the destroyed, damaged or stolen property
  • 4. Receipts for the damaged, lost or stolen property
  • 5. Witnesses’ contact information, if available
  • 6. Police and medical reports, if available

Filing an insurance claim isn’t always easy, but homeowners insurance could prevent a disaster leading to financial ruin. Taking the time to prepare before something happens could be all the difference between a smooth homeowners claim process and not getting the settlement you deserve. For a review of your current homeowners insurance policy or to get a free quote, just call us at 724-929-2300 today. Our agents can compare prices for you to get you the best price on the right coverage the first time.