How to file a Homeowner Insurance Claim

Five Items You Should Have When Filing Property Claims

When storms, theft or vandalism strike, they can disrupt your life in an instant. However, your home insurance coverage can help you get back on your feet by paying for damaged or stolen belongings and for repairs to your home. You can expedite the property claims process by having five essential documents readily available.

1. Your policy's declaration page

Before filing a claim, be sure to read your homeowner's policy to understand what's covered. Home insurance typically covers your physical house and other structures on the property, along with items inside your home such as furniture, appliances and electronics. Liability and medical expenses for any damage or injuries sustained may also be covered. Your policy may not cover damage from pets, floods, earthquakes, landslides, cracks in your home's foundation.

2. Documented inventory of possessions

Creating an inventory of your personal possessions before something happens can help save time during the property claims process. You can get a copy of an inventory form from your insurance company or use the free inventory software provided by the Insurance Information Institute. Document information like brand name, cost and date of purchase (include receipts when possible). You also can use a video camera or digital camera to create a visual documentation.

Consider conducting an inventory of your personal belongings at least once a year. Keep this information in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box at your bank.

3. Official police report

Call your local police department and file a report as soon as damage from a storm, vandalism or theft occurs. Your insurance company will need a copy of the official police report when you file a claim.

4. Documented inventory of losses

Once the damage occurs, document your losses as soon as possible. Use written and visual documentation to capture as many details as you can. Don't start cleaning up until after the property claims adjuster completes an inspection of your home.

5. Receipts

It's possible your home insurance coverage will reimburse you for certain costs associated with your loss, such as those required to make temporary repairs to your home. You may also be reimbursed for expenses related to temporary relocation while repairs are made. Be sure to keep all receipts from such costs.

When you keep these five important documents prepared and ready for your insurance company's review, the property claims process can move more quickly and efficiently. Remember, carrying home insurance coverage can reimburse you for most losses suffered in the event of a storm, burglary or vandalism. Be sure to review your policy annually to ensure your coverage matches up with your individual needs.

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