Filing a home insurance claim is rarely a fun experience, and it’s even less appealing if you’re worried about your insurance rates going up or if your claim will even be accepted. Insurance companies see claims for damages and losses all the time, whether it’s roof damage due to a heavy storm or basement flooding due to a busted pipe.
If you’ve experienced the need to file an insurance claim, the last thing you want is for your claim to be denied or for there to be a delay in the process. Don’t panic! There are a few things you can do before filing your claim to help speed up the process, and some mistakes to avoid that could end up proving costly in the long run.
Inquiring about a potential home insurance claim could still count against you.
Sometimes even asking your insurance company about a potential claim could be viewed as a flag. Some insurance carriers have rules in place where agents are required to report customers for discussing the possibility of a claim. Before you buy an insurance policy from a prospective insurer, ask about how the insurance company handles these situations.
Will my homeowners insurance go up if I file a claim?
Many (but not all) homeowners insurance claims will result in higher premiums, even if they’re approved. But claims that are denied could have even more of an impact on your premiums. It either tells the insurance company that your claim was invalid or that it was insufficient.
In the former case, it may tell the insurance company that you have poor judgment, are negligent or—at the worst—attempting to perpetrate insurance fraud. In the latter situation, your denied claim tells the insurance company that you are likely to have another claim in the future, either due to incomplete repairs or because the issue may cause further damage prior to being repaired.
Tips to Ensure Your Home Insurance Claim Goes Smoothly
The difference between having your home insurance claim go smoothly and having to deal with a massive headache can often boil down to preparation and documentation. If you need to file a claim, follow these steps to help facilitate a faster response:
- Call the right people. If your home has been burglarized or vandalized, call the police as soon as you can to start filing a police report. The next phone call you make should be to your insurer. The faster you start the process, the sooner you can receive your claim payout.
- Fill out required paperwork and forms. Your insurance company will send the proper documentation and forms to process your claim. You can also jump-start the process by filling out information online.
This can go even more smoothly if you download your insurance company’s mobile app, if they have one. These apps usually allow you to start the claims process by giving required information and uploading photos of the incident.
- Assess the damages. Most homeowners claims require an insurance adjuster to come to your home and determine whether or not the damage is covered.
- Pay your deductible. Most claims require you to pay your insurance deductible, which is your share of the total amount for damages or loss. After you pay the deductible in full, your insurance company will usually pay its share of the claim’s total cost.
In addition to taking steps to ensure your claim goes quickly, there are some things you can do before you even pick up the phone to make a better impression on your insurance company.
- Read your homeowners policy. Before you even think of filing an insurance claim, stop to read your policy and make sure the damages you’re seeking are even covered in the first place. For example, you may view flood insurance and “water backup” as the same type of coverage—they are not.
- Have the right coverage. If it’s important that you’re able to replace losses with similar items—even if the value of those items has depreciated—you’ll want coverage that accounts for the actual replacement cost. If your policy only covers the actual cash value of the contents of your home, you may find yourself unable to pay for replacements due to depreciation in value.
- Make a home inventory. Speaking of your belongings, make a home inventory and keep it as up to date as possible. This is especially important in the aftermath of a catastrophic loss or extensive damage to your entire home. When you file your claim, you’ll probably be able to remember big ticket items, such as furniture and electronics like TVs or computers. What you may not account for, however, are the small appliances in your kitchen cabinets, such as toasters, blenders or air fryers.
- Maintain your property. It’s important for homeowners to regularly inspect and fix issues on your property before they escalate. Sudden damages—such as fallen trees during a storm or burst water pipes—are often covered. A slow roof leak, on the other hand, could lead to other damage.
If you know about the leak and refuse to fix it before it’s too late, you may end up with a denied insurance claim.
SelectQuote Can Help Answer Your Home Insurance Claim Questions
If you’re not sure whether or not filing a homeowners insurance claim makes sense, you may not want to immediately call your insurance company. SelectQuote can help walk you through common claims scenarios and help you find home insurance coverage that meets your budget and protection needs.