How to File a Property Damage Claim

Wondering how to file a property damage claim? Each insurance company has specific instructions on how to make a property damage claim, but a few general tips apply to all property damage scenarios.

Figure out who to contact.
Different types of property damage claims fall under different insurance options. Property damage caused by a car accident that was someone else's fault should go through their insurance company. Property damage to your home or personal property typically falls under your homeowner's insurance.

Review your insurance policy.
If the property damage claim falls under your homeowner's insurance policy, review your policy before contacting the insurance company. Know what's covered under your policy and what isn't.

Some types of property damage are not covered by your homeowner's insurance, or they require a separate type of insurance or additional rider, such as property damaged by flooding. Know whether or not the insurance company covers your specifics before you make contact, so you can insist on your rights or back off as warranted.

Contact the appropriate insurance company as soon as possible.
Once you're certain of the specifics, contact the insurance company as soon as possible. Provide the details they request. You'll have to describe what happened, when the property damage occurred and the extent of the damage. From there, you'll make an appointment for an insurance adjustor to come and investigate the damage.

Save parts, and call an emergency contractor if needed.
Save anything you can to show the adjustor relative to your property damage. Save the damaged property, if possible. If property damage is the result of failed equipment, save the parts from the equipment. Depending on the nature of the property damage, you may need to call an emergency contractor to minimize the problem.

For example, if a pipe busts, you'll want a plumber and possibly a flood specialist out to stop the leak and salvage your flooring and furniture. You'll probably have to do this before an adjustor can get out to investigate the claim, so work with contractors that will bill the insurance company directly and save anything you can to show the adjustor. If the property damage won't be evident by the time the adjustor arrives, take lots of pictures and document the damage extensively.

Look out for low-ball offers.
In some very rare cases, an insurance adjustor may simply issue a check for the repairs and property damage and you can get on with your life. However, if the adjustor sees any room for questioning the claim or the cost of the repairs, you may need to haggle to get the money you need.

Don't simply accept a low-ball offer because you assume that's all the insurance company will give you. Hold firm to your position, and consult a lawyer if necessary. Beware of accepting a partial payment check, as it may include language that states you agree to settle a property damage claim for that partial check when you sign and cash it.

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