Did you know that if your property sustains damage from a natural disaster, you can file a property damage insurance claim and receive payment for the repairs?
How to File a Property Damage Claim
If you are unfamiliar with the property damage claim process, you may find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated. Therefore, best time to learn about the property damage insurance claim process is before you experience a natural disaster and must utilize it.
Contact Your Insurance
In the aftermath of the disaster, call your insurance company or agent right away. This is perhaps the most important step because your insurance company has necessary information, such as:
- If the damage is covered under your policy
- What deductible to expect
- How long you have to file a claim
- How long you will have to wait while for the claim to be processed
Your insurance agent will likely be happy to help, so ask them about any part of the process is complicated or confusing to you. They have expertise on the subject and an entire industry to help inform them on difficult questions.
Water Damage Restoration Claims
In cases of water damage, insurance involvement may save you a lot of money. Insurance companies will send a water damage restoration professional to perform an assessment of your property and advise you based on the results. This is helpful because mold is typically not covered by insurance, so early detection and removal of water damage will minimize the risk for mold growth.
It is important to call your insurance immediately after a natural disaster. This makes it more likely that you will get reimbursed for the damage on your property. If you call restoration professionals to clean up and do not notify your insurance company, the bill will likely not be covered because your insurance was not able to assess the damage themselves.
What Makes a Successful Property Damage Claim?
The most important thing you can do to ensure reimbursement from your insurance company is to document the damage done to your property. Take many detailed photos of each room and compare them with photos post-disaster so your insurance knows your home was previously well-maintained. In cases of water or fire damage, use tape measures or yard sticks to show how big the damage is and your dedication to documenting it.
Taking pictures and video of your property damage is important because it proves to the insurance company that this damage was a result of a natural disaster and that they are required to cover it.
Once you have photos and other documentation of the damage to show your insurance agent, you may begin performing emergency repairs. It is not typically recommended to make repairs yourself unless you are a trained professional, but if the home is unsafe or at risk for further damage, feel free to do so if you are confident in your abilities.
Your insurance may provide or recommend a disaster restoration company to clean up your property after a natural disaster. If not, however, you will have to find a contractor yourself, and this can be yet another stressful part of this experience. Ideally, your contractor will be licensed and willing to work with insurance on all kinds of repair, including water damage restoration and reconstruction.
Understand Your Policy
Before contacting your insurance agent, read through your policy to make sure you understand it and how it correlates to your property damage. For example, if your property sustained water damage, you may be covered through flood insurance or homeowner’s insurance, depending on the type of damage your property sustained, and how severe. You can certainly talk about it with your insurance agent if confused, but the best way to efficiently receive payment is to understand the details beforehand.
The amount of damage your home sustains is also a factor in how much reimbursement you will receive. You may qualify for replacement costs and/or actual cash value if only part of your property is damaged. If so, your insurance will provide you with the exact amount needed to replace any damaged items or objects.
Replacement cost requires the insurance company to replace a damaged appliance with a new one at full price. Actual cash value, on the other hand, means that insurance only has to pay for part of a new appliance or item because the old one was worn and not worth the price of a brand new appliance. Be sure you know which policy you have when you call to have your items replaced.
If your entire property is damaged, your homeowner’s insurance will likely pay for all replacements and repairs covered under the policy. However, your insurance will not replace objects and materials with more expensive versions than were used in the original structure.
Property Insurance Payment Process
Natural disasters can put strain on insurance companies because of the amount of property damage, so check in with your insurance agent about changes in procedure. Insurance companies sometimes require files to be claimed on a deadline, so be sure to call your insurance agent and file right away. Even if there is no deadline, most policies require you to file a claim within a year of the natural disaster.
You may need to fill out a form that proves the amount you lost. This is where pictures and videos documenting the damage can come in handy. When you sign this form, you are legally stating the amount of money you are claiming as a result of the damage.
It is up to you to find a contractor or restoration company to do repairs afterward. Your insurance company often has companies they recommend, but the final decision is yours. Make sure whoever you hire is licensed and has the proper permits.
At ServiceMaster Disaster Associates, our technicians are available 24/7 to provide disaster restoration services for damage caused by water, fire, mold, and other natural disasters. We provide free estimates and work with your insurance so you can remain as stress-free as possible during this difficult time. We understand that the destruction of your home is a traumatic experience and will help you during the property damage insurance claim process in any way we can.