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Top 5 Tips for Handling Residential Insurance Claims

You have homeowners insurance for a reason: to protect you financially in the event of damage or loss where your property is concerned. And there are a number of reasons why you might be prompted to file a residential insurance claim. For example, you may come home to find that you’ve been the victim of a home invasion robbery and that your house has been burglarized. Or perhaps you live in an area where earthquakes or tornadoes are prevalent and you could have some damage as a result of such a natural disaster. Maybe a drunk driver will veer out of control and crash into your living room. And whether you experience minor damage or suffer a complete loss of your structure, you’ll probably want to file a claim with your insurance provider in order to see some amount of recovery – enough to replace what you’ve lost. However, you need to go about filing your claim appropriately so that you can make sure to get the money you need for repair or replacement, and do so in an expedient manner. So here are a few tips for handling your residential insurance claims.

  1. File for the easiest solution. If your house has suffered severe damage, repairing it could entail a major undertaking and a lot more expense than simply hauling away the debris and starting from scratch. Talk to your agent – he or she should be able to give you some advice pertaining to how to file so that you can get the most immediate attention. When your home has been demolished, all you want is to restore it so that you can get back to your life. And filing for the easiest and least expensive solution could make it happen faster. Of course, this won’t work if only a small portion of your home has been affected.
  2. Is that your final answer? Insurance companies rely on the fact that major accidents are few and far between. They make money when everyone is paying for coverage and no one is filing for payouts. So naturally, they want to finalize payments on your claim as quickly as possible. But you can’t let them rush the process by sending a check marked “final payment” or getting you to sign a release after a payment has been made. It’s your responsibility to make sure that they cover what they have agreed to in your policy. But if you cash a final payment check or sign a release, you’re giving up your right to future payouts on your claim, and potentially leaving yourself in a financial lurch as a result.
  3. Prepare to tangle with your mortgage company. If you hold a mortgage on your home, your lender may be listed on your homeowners insurance policy, which means that checks for repair and replacement on claims might be made out to both you and your mortgage lender. This can be a problem because they’re not likely to sign over the money and trust you to use it appropriately. In short, they might hold the funds in escrow until you’ve completed repairs and returned the property to salable condition.
  4. Get accurate quotes. Whether you’re replacing damaged or stolen property or you’re having repairs done to your home, you need to make sure you’re getting the former value of goods and materials. You may have to deal with corporate adjusters that don’t live in your area or understand the local economy. Or you might be offered replacement goods that aren’t of the same caliber as the ones you lost. It’s your job to make sure the cost estimates are accurate and that you’re not getting low-balled on replacement value.
  5. Know what’s covered. Before you file any insurance claims, you need to understand what is covered so you don’t waste your time or your agent’s. Insurance may cover the exterior and interior of your home in the event of specific types of damage or loss, it may cover items in your home, and it might even cover extras like living expenses should you have to move into a hotel while your home is repaired following damage or loss. Whether you’re with Allstate, State Farm, or a Pronto Insurance Franchise, you need to understand what is covered so that you can file appropriately and get the help you need to cover your residential claim.
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