I have been a homeowner for ten years and have not filed an insurance claim until this year. Now I’ve filed two claims, one for hail damage to my roof and the other for my recent burglary. Here are a few tips for filing an insurance claim that I learned along the way.
Buying things online makes it much easier to track down receipts – When I was creating my list for the insurance company, I had receipts for most of the big items in my home inventory software. But there were also a lot of smaller things that were taken. I love Amazon for a lot of reasons. The fact that they keep a record of my entire purchase history is one of the biggest reasons. Not only did it make it easy to get copies of receipts, it also provided me with a list of the smaller stuff that I had not entered into the inventory software. I was also able to recover receipts from Best Buy, eBay, and Etsy.
Take photos – If you have groups of things, like jewelry or tools, I recommend taking a picture so you can easily determine what’s missing. Even if items aren’t valuable individually, take photos. Those are the kinds of things that take time to accumulate and while you might not spend a lot of money on each individual item, it starts to really add up if you need to replace it at one time.
Take your time – When filing a claim with the insurance company, take your time creating your list of lost items. It took me at least a week to complete my list after being robbed. I knew immediately that a lot of jewelry was missing but it took time to remember exactly what all of it was. I’m pretty certain there were still a few things missing from my list. If I’d had photos of my jewelry, it would have helped things go faster. Thieves often take random things that you might not notice immediately. There was obviously something missing from a desk drawer but it wasn’t until I found a dropped power converter that I realized they had stolen my travel adapter kit. I probably wouldn’t have figured it out until I went to pack for an overseas trip, which won’t be anytime soon.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions & enlist the help of those more knowledgable than you – Thankfully I have a very helpful attorney friend that has lots of experience working with insurance companies. He was very kind to answer my many questions. He told me that the replacement cost coverage I have should include sales tax. I did not see it on the list detailing what the insurance company would cover. I asked the adjuster about it, he said nobody had ever asked him about that before. They had included tax, but at a rate of 6.5%. Tax in my area is 8.375%. Because I asked, they changed it to the correct rate. I also discovered while reviewing the list that they had mistakenly valued my computer at $12.99, something they also corrected after I asked about it.
Work with a contractor that is used to dealing with insurance companies – When my roof suffered hail damage, I contacted the construction company that had replaced my sister’s roof after another hail storm. The owner knew the ins and outs of what needed to be done and what the insurance company would pay. I contacted the same company after my break-in. He was great about getting my door repaired quickly and recommended I take photos in case the insurance company wanted to see them. An adjuster did not come out to my house after the burglary, but according to the contractor, if I’d been insured by any other company they probably would have sent someone out to see the damage before it was repaired. Since I’d never experienced anything like this, I was thankful to have a contractor that was familiar with the process.
While this last month has been pretty stressful and things have not gone as I would have liked, ultimately I feel very blessed. Things could have been much worse. Very little of what was stolen had sentimental value. My pets were all okay. I learned some valuable lessongs. I am very thankful to my family and friends that helped me out and cheered me up during this frustrating time.
What lessons have you learned from filing an insurance claim?