What happens when I have a home insurance claim?

August 18th, 2015 | in Claims

Want to know what happens when you make a home insurance claim? In this article I will explain what happens when you make a claim and what you can do to make the claims process easier for you.

 You wake up in the morning and walk out to the kitchen to make your morning coffee. As you enter the kitchen you step in a puddle of water by the dishwasher…water is leaking out from underneath it onto your hardwood floor. What do you do?

 What are things I should do when I have a claim?

  • Depending on the cause of the loss there may be something that you can immediately do to prevent further damage for example, if a water pipe has broken shut off the main water supply and mop up the water.

  • If you have been burglarized call the police before entering the home and only enter the home if you are sure the burglar has left.

  • if you have a small fire in your home and you have a fire extinguisher use it to try to extinguish the fire. If the is largeor does not respond to the fire extinguisher evacuate the area  and call the fire department.

  • Call your broker or your insurance company's 24 hour Emergency Claims Number if your broker is closed.

At our office if we are open we will help you determine what the next steps are and report the claim to the insurance company for you. It is important that you provide a number to us that the adjuster can call to contact you.

If our office is closed then call your insurance companies 24 Hour Emergency Claims Number, you will need to provide them your policy number. To find a list of Emergency Claims Contact numbers click here.   Note: it is a good idea to enter your policy number in your cell phone for easy reference, or we would be pleased to email you a copy of your policy when we place your insurance at our office.

It may be helpful to take pictures of the damage. Do not make repairs, unless you have to in order to prevent further damage or to make your home safe. Try and leave things as they are, but if more damage is occurring as a result of the claim, do whatever you can to reduce the damage. You need to make sure you’re safe and secure – and if that means that you have to make a temporary repair, then do it.   

When will I be contacted by an adjuster?

You will usually be contacted by an insurance adjustor the same day you report the claim. If it is a serious claim they will contact you with in an hour – for example a fire. The adjustor will ask you to describe what happened, when it happened and if appropriate if you have done anything to prevent further damage.   Be prepared to describe what has happened in detail and give an initial outline of items that are damaged or are missing. If the cause of a loss was burglary or other criminal activity the adjuster will ask you to report it to the police and obtain police file #. For complex claims usually involving building repairs the adjuster will set up a convenient time to visit your home and review the damage.

What will adjuster ask me to do?

You will be asked to complete a Proof of Loss form that confirms that you are/were the owner of the damaged/missing property and includes an area for items to be included. Make a complete Inventory of your missing and damaged items. Take your time in compiling this list because many people tend to underestimate their loss. Ideally, we recommend that you make a household inventory prior to having an insured loss. The easiest way to do this is to take digital pictures of all the items in the home room by room and store them off site (i.e. store the file in cloud storage, download it onto a drive and store it outside of your home). For taking pictures of small items like china, jewelry and collectibles place the items on a dark cloth on a table and take pictures of them. Also, scan or place copies of any receipts, warranties, manuals, photos or valuation certificates expensive items off site. Examples of expensive items could be jewelry, paintings, collectables, electronics, sports equipment and other high value items.

If you are claiming for something that involves the repair of your home or replacement of household items it is normal for insurance providers to ask for several estimates (unless they use their own contractors) so that they can compare them both 

How much will my claim cost me?

In most cases when you have a claim you will lose your claims free discount for three years and have to pay your policy deductible. There are some companies that have a ‘Claims Protector’ endorsement and waive the deductible if you have had home insurance and been claims free for more than 5 years.

How do I know that my insurance policy will cover my claim?

Hopefully you know what your policy covers but if you are unsure ask your broker and the adjustor. You can also review your policy wordings to see what is covered. If you are informed it is not covered than ask to be shown in the policy wordings were that is stated and have the adjustor explain why coverage is denied.

How long will it take to settle my claim?

This will depend on the amount of damage and the complexity your claim. Unfortunately, there can be delays due to the product being out of stock, shortage of qualified trades people or time spent confirming items that are lost or damaged and the replacement cost of them, In an emergency situation, if you cannot live in your home due to the claim, your insurance provider will have provisions in place to help you.

Please contact us if you would like to review your coverage or to discuss measures to assist you in the claims process or simply offering you tips in claims prevention.