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Damage Control: The Ins and Outs of Property Claims

JENNIFER FREDERICK
HNI Post Loss Administrator

Unless you're the luckiest person in the world, there's a good chance that eventually you'llproperty claims need to report a property damage claim for your home, apartment, condominium, or business at some point. (That's what insurance is for, right?)

But do you know the steps to take? Or who you should report your claim to? And what should you expect after your claim is reported? It's a lot to consider, especially if the worst comes to pass and you're in a state of shock. Here's a four-step primer on reporting property claims.

What to Do When a Loss Occurs

First things first: Notify your insurance carrier immediately. Most insurance companies have 24-hour claim reporting services. Within 24 to 48 hours, a claim adjuster will be assigned to your property claim to work with you directly. If you don’t hear from your carrier, call your broker.

Next, protect the undamaged property. Use your best judgment here; never endanger your life or your health protecting property. Keep receipts from any material purchased to protect the remaining property. These are typically a covered expense and can be added to your claim. Don't alter the condition of the damaged property or attempt to clean up before the adjuster inspects it.

If the damaged property needs to be altered to protect your home or business from sustaining further damage, try to preserve as much of the original damage as possible. [Yes, we recommend protecting the damage, funny as it sounds!] If you need to alter the damage, take plenty of photographs of the area before changing anything.

What to Expect After Your Property Claim Has Been Reported

Once an adjuster has been assigned to your property claim, he will contact with you in the first 24 to 48 hours to get a statement of the loss. The claim adjuster will ask questions to determine if there is coverage for the loss, including:

  • Details about how the property was damaged
  • What was damaged
  • Value of the damage

The insurance company is responsible to compensate you for your loss based on your contract of insurance. This may involve using an independent adjuster to inspect the damaged property, depending on the severity of the loss. You will be asked to provide a complete list of the property damaged or lost, and you will complete a proof of loss statement. The adjuster gets estimates for repairs to damaged property and researches the value of the property that has been destroyed or stolen.

If your loss has made your home unsafe to live in, the adjuster will help you arrange temporary repairs and will issue payment for those repairs. If your home is covered for a loss such as a fire, your policy also may pay for lodging and meals if you are displaced. Be aware that your policy may have a stated limit for these types of payments. Find out the limit from your broker or the adjuster.

Your claim adjuster then will offer you an amount to settle your claim. Once you have agreed on an amount and payment is issued, your property claim will be closed.

What Happens If Your Settlement is Too Low, Or If You're Denied Coverage?

It's possible that you may not agree with your claim adjuster on the value of a loss or their decision to deny coverage. The adjuster has a responsibility to work with the policyholder to resolve difference of opinions. The adjuster also must to provide you with the policy exclusions that exclude coverage for your loss if coverage is being denied. Best practice is to contact your broker if a dispute arises.

How to Reach a Successful Claim Settlement

An insurance company must treat you fairly and abide by the terms of your insurance contract. When you buy insurance coverage, the company promises to help you recover financially following a covered loss. Losses occur every day and equitable settlements are made without any problems. Your broker is your greatest ally should you incur a loss; don't hesitate to contact your broker in your hour of need!

 

Learn more about our Transportation DART System

 

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Photo by AmySelleck via Flickr

Topics: Construction Transportation Manufacturing