In the unfortunate event of suffering a loss due to damages, either to your home, business, car, or even worse yet, to yourself or a loved one, you will need to file a claim with your insurance carrier. Together, you will go through the necessary steps and procedures that ensure you will receive a fair compensation based on the type of policy you have.
This process, though long and sometimes arduous, is, nevertheless, essential in properly assessing the situation. Knowing what to expect when filing an insurance claim will not only spare you much headache, but it will also ensure a swifter resolution and a better outcome.
Understanding Your Policy
Your insurance policy is essentially a contract between you and your carrier, and it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with it in order to make the insurance claim process as easy and as favourable to you as possible. In it, you will find the amount of coverage you have, what is insured, what exclusions and special limits exist, and the means by which you will be compensated.
Quite often when a person was dissatisfied with the way things turned, was because they did not understand what this contract stipulated in the fine print. It is highly recommended that you fully comprehend your insurance policy, preferably before you need to file a claim. Your Broker is supposed to understand what your exposures, explain them you and provide you with options.
Working With a Claims Adjuster
The claims adjuster is the person put in charge by your carrier to look over your claim, determine the extent of the damage and the liability of the insurer. If you have a complex claim, the adjuster will fill out an onsite analysis by asking you questions, taking photos and videos of the damage, review police records, speaking to witness, and write up a report to determine how much coverage you are entitled to.
It is also important to remember that the adjuster is an employee or a freelancer hired by the insurance company. It is possible for him or her to try and convince you to accept less than what the claim is actually worth. The insurance industry is, however, regulated and it is in the carriers’ own interest to settle claims fairly. But if you feel it necessary, you can also hire your own public adjuster to work on your behalf.
If you are entitled to a full compensation for the damages, you are expected to provide the adjuster with a list of documents that prove their value. Every insurance company has its own criteria regarding these documents but may include things like original receipts, date of purchase, the replacement value of that item today, any photos showing the item’s condition prior to the damage (if available), etc. These will help you get a fairer deal. If you do not intend to replace items, you may only receive their Actual Cash Value as opposed to the Replacement Value.
Expect the Unexpected
Depending on the complexity and liability of your claim, you can expect a somewhat lengthy process. You can also expect the possibility of some things not going exactly as planned, such as an item becoming obsolete while in your possession, and by its “inherent nature cannot be replaced,” to not be fully covered.
But by reading and fully comprehending your insurance policy, as well as working together with your assigned adjuster, the whole process will be much smoother and more predictable than some uninformed and unprepared people make it out to be.
Your Best Insurance is an Insurance Broker
The best way to ensure that you have the appropriate policy is to work with a Broker that takes the time to learn about your exposures and explains the possible solutions.