When you decide to file an insurance claim, you will need to work with an insurance adjuster from your homeowners insurance company. the insurance adjuster assesses your property, gathers evidence about the extent of the damage, and rules on your claim.
However, it is important to remember that the adjuster does not defend you. the adjuster is paid to calculate the lowest possible compensation on behalf of your insurer. You can prepare for the adjuster’s inspection by compiling a detailed list of your property, understanding your policy exclusions, taking careful notes of your meeting, and using thoughtful language when describing your property loss.
preparing for the insurance adjuster’s visit
When you experience property damage due to any peril that is covered by your home insurance, here are the steps to take:
what to do after an insurance adjuster visits your property
When the adjuster’s visit is over, you will be asked to submit any information related to your claim within a time limit defined by your policy. you may need to send:
Dealing with the insurance adjuster can be made easier if you have a detailed inventory, keep a record of your meetings with the adjuster, and understand your policy limits. And while it’s important to remain honest about your claim, you should avoid suggesting that you are at fault.
keep an itemized list of your lost or damaged property
This home inventory shows what you own and how much it’s worth, and gives the adjuster an idea of what needs to be replaced after a loss.
Insurers are required to replace your items or provide you with a similar replacement. therefore, you can increase the likelihood of obtaining full compensation for your loss by providing an adjuster with detailed information about your assets.
keep a record of any meeting with the adjuster
Record the date and time of your conversations, along with a brief explanation of what was said. If you can, get paper or electronic copies of any reports or statements your adjuster makes. this will help you stay organized for the duration of your case.
be honest about your loss
if you have to sign statements, review them to verify that they are true. making false statements to the adjuster will negatively affect your claim. Your homeowners policy prevents you from receiving any compensation if you mislead your adjuster. What’s worse, you could also face a lawsuit for committing insurance fraud.
understand your policy exclusions
However, a typical homeowners policy does not protect against water damage caused by a flood. If you tell the adjuster about the rain damage and they say your house was “flooded” because of the storm, this statement could invalidate your coverage.
avoid suggesting that you are to blame
While it is important to be honest with your claims adjuster, you should avoid statements that suggest you are at fault for your property damage. Since your policy does not compensate you for property losses caused by your own negligence, your adjuster will hear statements that suggest you caused the damage.
You should avoid giving a recorded statement to the adjuster. however, your policy may require you to submit to an examination under oath. if this is the case, be sure not to contradict yourself or suggest that you are to blame for the incident. You may even consider preparing to file with a public adjuster, a knowledgeable professional who can guide you through the claims process.
what are the fees of a public adjuster?
A public insurance adjuster charges you a percentage of your insurance payment after your case is finalized. This person can negotiate with your provider’s adjuster about your property damage to settle your claim. You probably won’t have to pay a public adjuster unless your insurer compensates you. however, a public adjuster may charge a service fee of 10%-15% of your claim payment after your case is resolved.
Due to their fee model, public adjusters generally only accept large claims. therefore, if you plan to file a claim for a small loss, such as a series of broken windows, you may not be able to hire a public adjuster.
If you can’t or don’t want to hire a public adjuster, consider speaking with a customer service representative from your insurer. this person may be able to help you understand your policy requirements for filing claims.
how to dispute insurance claims and payments
When an adjuster rules on your claim, they may not be satisfied if they offer a small payment or reject the claim altogether. but you still have recourse if you are not satisfied with the result.
A reexamination may be helpful if you have new evidence that you think the adjuster should consider, such as documents showing the value of your damaged property.
what if the estimate is still too low?
If you think your insurance adjuster’s estimate is still too low, you can file an appeal with your state insurance commissioner. You will need to show that your insurance provider is acting in bad faith or is refusing to honestly assess your property loss.
The state insurance commissioner will recommend your next course of action and you may contact your insurance provider to encourage a resolution. the commissioner’s office could rule that your complaint is unfounded, in which case your only option would be to retain an attorney and pursue litigation.