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Homeownership is one of the most significant financial investments you’ll ever make. When your home is damaged, whether from a fire, hail, or another hazard, you need to act fast to assess it and make any necessary repairs.

It’s important to file an insurance claim in a timely manner to ensure it doesn’t get denied. After all, when disaster strikes, you can’t wait for your insurance carrier to jump into action without your claim.

Here are some homeowners insurance claim tips to improve your chances of getting the funds you need to repair your home:

Make an itemized list for future insurance claims

Building an itemized list of your possessions can help speed up the insurance claims process and provide valuable information on losses come tax time. It’s also a great way to ensure you have enough insurance to cover your home and valuables.

When creating an itemized list, start in one room and work your way around the house. Your list doesn’t have to be overly detailed. It just needs to include basic information on your possessions, such as:

  • Item name, make, and model
  • Serial number, if applicable
  • Where you purchased it
  • Date of purchase (estimate if you’re unsure)
  • Cost
  • Any other details or notes of importance

For smaller items, like clothing, you can keep more generalized records, simply listing the number of items you have in each category and any other important notes.

It might be challenging to remember the details of past purchases, so record as much information as possible and start to keep more detailed records as you make new purchases.

Tip: Keep receipts, invoices, and purchase contracts as proof of value, especially for big-ticket items. Take pictures of your belongings to create a photo record for future use.

Some possessions, such as jewelry, art, and other collectibles, may require additional or special coverage outside your homeowners policy, since your coverage limit may not be enough. Ensure you have adequate coverage for valuable belongings before you face a loss later.

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File your claim as soon as possible

Timing is everything with insurance claims. Contact your insurance agent or provider immediately if you experience any property damage. The longer you wait, the more time there is for the damage to worsen or to potentially face a claim denial.

When you call your insurance carrier, an insurance agent will walk you through the claims process. This is the time for you to ask questions about your policy and what’s covered. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • How long do I have to file a claim?
  • Does my insurance policy cover the damage?
  • Will my claim exceed my deductible?
  • How long will the claims process last?
  • Do I need to get estimates for repairs?

The sooner you can get your insurer involved, the sooner you can come to a resolution and, hopefully, receive a claim check.

Document the damage

Properly documenting the damage may be the most crucial step to a successful insurance claim. Without proper documentation, the insurance carrier only has your word to go by, which may not be enough to warrant covering damages.

Before you clean up or make temporary repairs, photograph or record the damages to your home or property. If you’ve already taken photos of your possessions before the damage, you can provide a before and after comparison to the insurance provider.

Tip: If possible, hang on to damaged items until an adjuster has had a chance to visit your home. If you’re unsure whether or not to throw away a certain damaged item, check with your insurance agent.

Make temporary repairs

Most repairs will occur after going through the claims process and receiving compensation. But some temporary repairs may be necessary, especially if safety is an issue. Make temporary repairs as needed to make your home livable and safe for you and your family, but don’t make any permanent fixes yourself. Performing temporary repairs may also help prevent further damage to your home and possessions.

Review your insurance policy to determine how to handle temporary repairs. Keep any receipts related to temporary repairs. You may receive reimbursement from your insurer for out-of-pocket expenses to repair damages.

Communicate with your adjuster

Once you file a claim, the insurance carrier will send an adjuster to assess the damages. Be ready and available to talk with the adjuster, providing necessary details to give a complete picture of the damage.

Prepare a list of everything you want to show the adjuster and an inventory of damaged or destroyed items. Give them a copy of your inventory, along with copies of any receipts. Check whether your insurance provider pays for inspections of damages that might be out of sight, like your electrical system.

Tip: Being present to answer questions from the adjuster will help speed up the process. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask questions as needed.

Save your receipts

Depending on the damage to your property, you may need to make temporary repairs or relocate temporarily until your home is repaired. If you have to move out of your home for any length of time, keep records of any expenses. Save hotel, restaurant, repair, and other receipts. Your homeowners policy may reimburse you for living expenses, but you’ll need proof of the costs.

Talk to your insurance agent to determine how to submit receipts for living expenses and other costs. Review your homeowners policy to understand what expenses are covered.

Learn More: How to Dispute a Denied Home Insurance Claim

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About the author
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a family travel and finance expert. He writes about credit cards, travel, student loans, saving money, homeownership, and career and entrepreneurship. His work has been featured in Forbes Advisor, The Ascent, FinanceBuzz, Slickdeals, Student Loan Planner, and more. He is in the process of becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC).

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