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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

When To File a Home Insurance Claim

insurance policy

Home insurance can protect you in the event of an emergency. It can help cover repairs or replacement, temporary housing, and other costs if your home is damaged or your belongings are stolen. For example, if a tree falls through your roof, you'll almost certainly file a property damage claim under your homeowners insurance. But what if you're unsure whether to file a claim after an incident? You may be unaware of what your policy covers or whether it will cover all of the damages. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide what to do next.

Is my policy going to cover my loss?

Understanding what caused the damage to your home or belongings and whether that damage is covered is critical when deciding whether to file a property insurance claim, according to Jim Wucherpfennig, Travelers Vice President, Claim Property Product. Wind and hail damage is the most common homeowner claim, according to statistics compiled by the Insurance Information Institute (III).

Your insurance policy specifies what is and is not covered, so carefully read your policy documents. Once you understand how the damage occurred, you can determine whether it is covered by the policy. Wind, hail, theft, fire, vandalism, and water (burst pipe) are all common causes of damage to your home, belongings, and property. A standard homeowners policy does not typically cover flood, normal wear and tear, or earth movement. When in doubt, always speak with your insurance agent.

How Much Is My Deductible?

Even if you have a covered loss, the cost of the damages may not exceed your deductible, so you may decide not to file a claim. Minor damages, such as a few roof shingles blowing off during a windstorm, are frequently less expensive to repair or replace than your deductible. In general, if you file a claim that is paid, your deductible will be deducted from the amount of your covered loss.

Are there any policy limitations that may apply to my loss?

Payment for property damage may have a special limit that applies to that type of property. Jewelry, comic books, collectibles, and other valuables, for example, may be limited. These sub-limits could be less than the total amount of property damage. This is something to think about when deciding whether to file a claim.

If You Make the Decision to File a Claim

If you decide to file a claim, you should notify your insurance company as soon as possible. The sooner they are notified, the sooner they can begin assisting you. Meanwhile, if you make temporary repairs, keep a copy of all receipts and ask your Claim professional to review them and tell you if they'll be covered. Keep track of expenses that may be reimbursed if you are unable to stay in your home if you have Loss of Use coverage.

And keep in mind that you are not alone. Your Claim professional is there to answer your questions, explain what your policy covers, and walk you through the claim process.

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