Do you know that most property owners don’t receive the property damage settlement they deserve just because they can’t file a claim properly? If you are thinking that your insurance agency is there to serve your best interests, then you are dead wrong. In fact, insurance companies can significantly profit from depriving you of the full property damage recovery money. That’s why it is very important to understand the basics of filing a claim. In this article, I am going to share 7 tips for general property claims you should know.
The first thing is to get a replacement copy of the policy and Declarations Page. carefully check the limits for the main coverage categories offered to you, including contents, additional living expenses, and dwelling. You should also check the ordinance coverage, endorsements, and scheduled personal property items such as valuables, artwork, jewelry etc. It is important to determine if the limits actually match with your expectations when you purchased the insurance plan in the first place. And also don’t forget to get a copy of your state insurance laws and regulations and read them to make sure you are on the safe side of legal boundaries.
The law states that you are legally bound to cooperate with all sorts of reasonable claim related information requests from your insurance agency. The agency might ask you to give a recorded statement. At times, you might also be requested to participate in an examination under oath. The best way to go about this is to record the statement yourself, and consult with your attorney or adjuster before giving an examination under oath. If your insurance agency deals with it with their own attorney or adjuster, you should have yours as well. However, you are not obligated to give your tax return copies to the insurer. Remember, provide the insurer with sworn or recorded statements only after understanding your full rights.
This is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Try to be as thorough as possible while documenting your losses. Get help from witnesses, family members, friends, and neighbors to create the descriptions of your damaged items so that the insurer reimburses you as per the policy you have purchased. At times photographic or written proof of lost items are destroyed too with the property itself. In those cases, statements from witnesses become very crucial. Retailers and credit card companies can help you with this, as they have proof of you making purchases of the damaged item. Public adjusters are also able to help in this regard, in case you become too overwhelmed with the preparation of your personal property inventory.
Many property owners don’t even understand what these terms mean, Especially, many consider actual cash value as the replacement cost minus the depreciation, which is not the case. Actual cash value refers to the fair market value, which a keep customer would like to pay for the respective property to a seller without any duress. You need to be prepared for fighting to get full amounts for your property. More often than not insurers try to exploit their clients who do not understand these terms properly. This gives you more reason to hire an attorney or a public adjuster, and familiarise yourself with depreciation schedules.
Extended replacement cost and guaranteed coverage allow you to rebuild your house to restore the same quality and style it had before the damage. Even if the actual cost of rebuilding exceeds the policy limits, you are entitled to it. Carefully read the policy to make sure if you have this coverage or not. To get professional help with this, you can also contact the agent who helped you to buy the policy in the first place.
You should consider having a contractor of your own, rather than accepting the contractor assigned by the insurer or their estimate. Contractors hired by insurance companies might give you an estimate significantly less than the actual value to serve the interest of their employers. That’s why getting written estimates of the actual cost of repairing or replacing your property from a reputed independent contractor is extremely important. Even if you are not willing to rebuild the exact same house, you are entitled to settle the claim in accordance with the estimates to replace your damaged property.
There is no need for you to sign a release for settling an undisputed claim. If your insurer insists you sign one, then you need to be cautious. Ask the insurer why exactly they need you to sign a release, and consult with your adjuster or attorney before signing.
By following these 7 tips, you will be able to stay on the safe side and receive a fair settlement. However, it is highly recommended for you to hire a public adjuster to assist you with everything.