Summer storms can pack a punch. High winds, heavy rain, and hail can do serious damage to your home.
Your homeowners insurance policy should cover the cost of repairs, but the insurance claims process can be time-consuming, confusing, and overwhelming. And the last thing you need when summer storm damage hits is more stress.
To help make the process go a little more smoothly for you, let’s go over how to work with your insurance company to get the damage to your home fixed.
Have the Damage Inspected by a Quality Contractor
You can have a look at the damage yourself, but only if it’s safe to do so. From the ground outside, check your roof, deck, patio, windows, A/C coils, and siding. Look for hail damage, missing shingles, tree branches on the roof, cracks in windows, and dents or other damage to siding and gutters.
Inside, take a peek in your attic for signs of roof leaks. Even if there is no visible damage to your roof, storms can loosen or crack shingles, causing leaks. Make note of any damage you can see, and take photos if possible.
Even if you are able to look at the damage yourself, you’ll want to have a contractor come do an inspection as well.
You often can’t file a claim with your insurance company until you have documentation of the damage, so hiring a reputable contractor to do an inspection is still necessary. They can spot damage quickly, and advise you on what needs to be fixed. They will document the damage with photos, video, and written descriptions that you can then present to your insurance company.
Contact Your Insurance Company To File a Claim
Get in touch with your homeowner’s insurance company. Most policies give you a limited amount of time to file a claim after a storm, so don’t delay in contacting them.
When you call, talk through your coverage details. Most homeowner’s insurance companies cover damage to the home’s structure as well as personal property. But how much they pay out may depend on the type of coverage you have. Most policies offer one of two types of coverage: replacement cost coverage and actual cash value coverage. Here’s the difference, in a nutshell:
- Replacement cost coverage covers the cost of repairing or replacing damage to your home or lost or damaged items.
- Actual cash value coverage will pay you the value of the damaged item, adjusted for depreciation.
In most cases you’ll need to pay a deductible before the insurance company pays out.
When you file your claim, report even the small things, in case they turn out to be bigger issues. For instance, small water damage stains inside the home could be just the tip of the iceberg. Once repair work begins, your contractor could find bigger water damage issues lurking beneath the surface. You want to make sure the claim for them is filed within the given time limit so they will be covered.
Prepare for the Insurance Adjuster’s Visit
After you call, your insurance company will send an adjuster to assess the damage and submit an estimate. They’ll look for damage throughout your home, inside and out.
To prepare for the adjuster’s visit, it may help to create a list of areas of your home or personal items that were damaged, including the amount you paid for them. If you have receipts for any items, gather them now.
If possible, have your contractor join you for the adjuster’s inspection. They can act as your advocate and help make sure the adjuster gives you a fair assessment of the damages.
Before the adjuster leaves your home, make sure you have their contact information so you can stay in touch throughout the claims process.
Go Over the Adjuster’s Estimate
After the adjuster visits, your insurance company will be able to give you a better idea of what they’ll pay out for the claim. This is the time to discuss any limits or exclusions in your policy, especially if the estimate they give you doesn’t seem right.
Ask them to explain in writing how they calculated the estimate and the reasoning behind any exclusions or coverage limits.
Throughout the claims process, keep records of everything, including:
- All receipts for items or services you have to pay for out of pocket before the insurance check arrives. You’ll need to turn them in to your insurance company for the claim.
- Your communication with the insurance company and the adjuster. Note what you discussed, as well as the date and time of meetings or phone calls.
- Copies of all documents that you give or receive from the adjuster, including their permission to start on repairs (always get repair approvals in writing!).
You’ll want to have a record of these things in case you have any disagreements with the adjuster or insurance company that need to be resolved in court. And in the event your adjuster is replaced mid-claim with another adjuster (due to sickness, job change, or other reason), having these records available will help make that change seamless.
Schedule Repairs With Your Contractor
Once you have the go-ahead from the insurance adjuster, you can schedule the repairs with your contractor. To ensure your repairs can be done in a timely manner, make sure you contact your contractor as soon as your insurance company says you can proceed with repairs.