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Top Insurance Claim Tips

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Filing insurance claims may seem complicated, but it really isn't. Here are some of our tips to ensure you have an easier time filing any insurance claims that you may have.

Contact your insurance company immediately. Report and notify them of the type of loss you've suffered, as most insurance companies require you to make contact within a certain period of time after a loss has occurred. Policies may list this information in detail, including whether that notification must be in writing. Here is a list of information to include in your claim.

  1. A police/fire report
  2. Whether or not temporary repairs are necessary
  3. Description of damaged contents
  4. Condition of the home
  5. Others involved
  6. Any related injuries
  7. Location of damage
  8. Type of loss or damage
  9. Date of loss

Create a written request to your insurance carrier for an advance on your fire damage insurance claim to get the living essentials that you need: food, clothing, shelter, travel, etc. (The amount will be deducted from the total you receive from your insurance claim.)

Secure your property: if a certain part of your property was damaged, then you would need to mitigate that damage.

Businesses that have interruption coverage should prepare books and records.

Review your policy's coverage to determine how much and what type of coverage you have, what is covered, what is excluded and determine how your claim must be filed and any deadlines that may apply. Much of the information can be found on the declaration's page of the policy, usually located at the beginning. If you can't locate the policy, contact either your broker or the insurance company immediately to obtain a copy.

Documentation: Make sure you photograph and/or record the damage on video.

Make a list of all the items you lost.

Get repair/replacement estimates.

Gather and keep all receipts for your temporary living expenses.

Continue paying your insurance premiums and mortgage.

Smoke damage is a covered peril in most homeowners policies. The insurance company will most likely pay for cleaning ash and smoke, but disputes often arise over cleaning versus replacing items that have been exposed to smoke.

Allergic, or know someone who is at home?: If you or a resident of your home has health sensitivities such as allergies or asthma, alert your adjuster right away. Mold and soot inside your home, if not eliminated, can irritate people with respiratory problems. After a partial loss, you can (and should) seek payment from your insurer for mold, smoke, soot and odor mitigation.

Your adjuster may tell you that it is sufficient for you to wipe surfaces yourself, and that a deep cleaning is not necessary. The cleaning/drying process can be expensive when it’s done right, so insurance companies have developed ways to control their payouts for this work. You must stand firm and reject shortcuts and improper cleaning. It is also very important to have the entire HVAC system of your home cleaned out. You can access some parts of the system and clean by hand, but a professional should do the rest.

Special-case Fires. Fires that damage but do not completely destroy a home create special insurance claim issues. These claims are often called “partial losses” because the home has only been partially destroyed. Things to watch out for with partial losses include:

  1. Hidden damage (water, smoke, ash, mold, air quality, ducts)
  2. Inadequate or improper cleaning and repair methods
  3. Delays: Particularly after disasters, partial losses can be low priority for overworked insurance adjusters
  4. Disputes over “matching” and line of sight: Repairs should return your property to a “uniform and consistent appearance” even if that means replacing undamaged items such as roof tiles or carpeting.

What your insurance company should do. Once you’ve notified your insurance company of your loss and provided the information needed to start the claim, your insurer will generally assign the case to a claims representative who will analyze your policy to determine what type of policy you have, your policy limits, what is covered, what is excluded, your deductibles and any other information that might be needed.

Payment process. Payment processes will differ depending on the type of loss you have. For a small loss, your insurer may simply write you a check. For a larger loss, your insurer may advance some of the costs needed to rebuild or repair your home throughout the process. It’s important to ask your claims adjuster how the payment process will occur in your situation, and more importantly, to get that in writing.

A note of caution: Cash checks from your insurance company carefully. Make sure that you are not signing away any rights by cashing the check. If the check has a notation that it is ‘payment in full’ (when it isn’t) or that by cashing the check, the policyholder waives any rights, don’t cash it until you understand the consequences.

Time line. While the time line for every claim differs depending on the nature of the claim, most claims can generally be completed within a few months. In extreme cases, the process could take several months. It’s important to keep in close contact with your claims representative to make sure that your claim doesn’t fall through the cracks and that you’ll be able to get back into your home as soon as possible.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV) vs. Actual Cash Value (ACV) – The difference between the two comes down to one word called depreciation. RCV policies typically give you replacement cash value. If you have an ACV policy, depreciation is deducted from the age of building components, such as roofs, siding, gutters, HVAC, etc., as the older they get, the more they have usually deteriorated from age and thus lose value, a.k.a. depreciate, and you get the actual cash value when the claim is settled.

If you are living in the surrounding areas of Greater Phoenix, Arizona and are in need of insurance, then dial: 888-267-1924 and we, at Titan Restoration will be there to help through the entire process. We specialize in restoring, treating, and repairing damages that have been caused by fire and smoke, water, and storms! Come visit our contact page to know more about our many restoration services.