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What To Expect When You File A Claim

What To Expect When You File A Claim

Most of us only experience one large loss in a lifetime. When a disaster hits home (literally) it can be a whirlwind of events which makes it difficult to navigate the next steps. Below are a few things to expect once you have thought to call your insurance company or a public adjuster to file a claim.

Remember you are the captain of your claim and no restoration contractor, construction company, or adjuster should pressure you into making decisions before you are ready.

  • File a claim – The insurance company will typically ask questions to verify who you are, what your address is, and the type of claim you are wanting to file. Most people file a homeowners claim for damage caused by fire, wind, hail, lightning, tornado, water, or theft. (Filing a theft claim also requires a police report)
  • Contact from the insurance company – You will be contacted by the assigned adjuster (from the insurance company) who will be handling your claim to discuss the claim and to schedule a time for him or her to inspect the damages.
  • Additional Living Expenses(ALE) – Depending on the damage to your home and its livability, the adjuster will assist in getting a hotel room until you are able to move into an extended living/rental home. Insurance companies typically contract a third party to assist in locating a rental home for you and your family. However, you can opt to find a rental home on your own to not pay fees to the third party company. Additionally, you should keep receipts for all purchases so that you can be reimbursed for them. This does not include gas receipts. However, you can be reimbursed for the additional mileage you and your family have to drive during the time you are out of your home.
  • Structure inspection – The adjuster will primarily handle the structure portion of your claim during his/her onsite inspection. He/She will take photos of the damages and prepare an estimate for the repairs. If you hire a public adjuster, we will be present at the inspection verifying the adjuster documents the damages appropriately.
  • Personal property inspection – You will be primarily responsible for preparing a list of your personal belongings that were damaged from the loss. If you hire a public adjuster, we will perform an onsite inventory and assist in documenting the damaged items and preparing the list for you.
  • Estimate – Depending on the insurance company, the adjuster, their workload, and the type of loss, it could take anywhere from two days to a month to receive an estimate from the adjuster.
  • Initial payment – Once you receive an estimate from the insurance company you should also receive an actual cash value payment for the repairs. Actual cash value (ACV) means the replacement cost (RCV) minus depreciation (a deduction based on the age of the home/item which you may be able to recover later) and the deductible (the amount the insurance company holds onto until a limit is met within your policy). This payment is not a “settlement” for your claim, it is the initial amount that the insurance company agrees the damages are going to cost.
  • Choosing a contractor – It is important to find a contractor who you trust to do the repairs to your home, don’t settle for the contractor the insurance company recommends. We suggest getting an estimate from at least two contractors without providing them the insurance estimate so that you can know what the actual cost of the repairs will be and to make sure you aren’t being overcharged for the job.
  • Supplements – If your contractor’s estimate is higher and/or includes more work than what the insurance company estimated, you can submit your contractor’s estimate as a supplement for the insurance company to include with their estimate. Not every item will automatically be included depending on why it needs to be done as part of the work. When the insurance company revises their estimate and it increases, there will be additional ACV payments issued for the revisions. 
  • Depreciation – When the work to your home is complete the contractor will provide you with a final invoice or a job completion form that you will submit to the insurance company to recover the depreciation.

Handling an insurance claim can be stressful and arduous. Our goal as a public adjuster is to provide a service that allows the client to be involved in the claim without having to do the tedious and time-consuming aspects of the claim. A public adjuster can help you with all ten of these aspects of the claim. This service not only takes the burden off the client but also increases recovery because it is done by an expert who is trained to handle insurance claims every day.

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