Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim
Prepare a detailed list of all items of personal property that were lost, damaged or destroyed.
Ascertain the actual cost (including taxes) of replacing each of these items.
Determine the conditions of your personal property damage coverage under your policy.
- Are there applicable deductibles or limits?
- Do you have to actually replace specific items before you will be given the replacement value of these items?
- Were specific endorsements or appraisals necessary in order to fully cover all of your lost property?
- Did you have those coverages in place?
Put all of this information together and do the necessary additions and subtractions to calculate your covered personal property losses.
If the amount of your coverage on these or any coverages was insufficient, whose fault was it? If it is the insurance company’s fault, add up what it would have owed had the coverage amount been proper and include this in your demand.
Dwelling Protection Coverage Claim
A dwelling or other real property loss claim is determined by Scope of Loss and Bid.
Scope of loss are the things that need to be done.
Bid is how much will it cost to do each of these things.
It is important for you to use your own trusted experts, contractors, engineers, architects, etc. An insurance company’s experts may find it necessary to make assumptions, which may or may not be accurate. In addition, there is a big difference between a contractors “estimate” versus a “bid” to actually do the work. It is easy to give a low estimate if you are then required to do the work.
Always make certain that a bid is for like kind and quality materials and workmanship that are comparable to what you had. Custom and features are more expensive than substitute counterparts. This can make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars and more. It can also make a huge difference in the finished value of your home.
Be very careful with putting together these bids.
Assess the total cost to you of obtaining substitute (like kind and quality) rental accommodations for the time necessary for you to stay out of your home. Check your ALE coverage, noting any applicable limits on the benefits.
Your Duties When Filing a Claim:
Dwelling and Property Damage Claims
If you are submitting a Dwelling Protection or Property Damage claim, send the insurance company a “Notice of Claim” letter. Include your name, policy number, the date, time and location of the accident, a general statement of what happened, and a copy of any estimates, bids, or scope of loss that have been prepared by you. If you are requesting ALE expenses, you can put this in the letter too.
If a lawsuit has been filed against you and you are submitting a liability claim, send the insurance company a “Tender of Defense” letter. This letter should include your name, policy number, the date, time and location of the accident, a general statement of what happened, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any victims and witnesses, and a copy of the suit and/or any documents that have been sent to you regarding the suit.
The Tender of Defense letter should also ask the insurance company to:
- Defend and handle the situation.
- Send you the name of the attorney if one has been selected to represent you.
- Keep copy of this letter for your records.
The Duty to Cooperate: you should tell the insurance company everything they need to know to process and investigate your claim. You need to make yourself available to speak with insurance company representatives. You also need to make any damaged property available for inspection by the company or their contractors or others.
The Duty to Preserve evidence of the loss: you should not remove or alter any evidence of the damage without the company’s ok. If something needs to be repaired, receive written permission from the insurance company to repair the damage, and store the company’s response with your insurance information.
The Duty to File a “sworn proof of loss,” and
The Duty to Prepare a personal property inventory of your loss, either on your own paper or on a form provided by the insurance company.
Everything you submit to the insurance company must be precise and true. Never overestimate, misstate or exaggerate any aspect of a claim. If you do make a mistake, correct it in writing as soon as possible and keep a copy of the letter in your records.
Next: The Claim Process