When your home gets damaged severely enough to justify a claim on your home insurance policy, it is likely a crisis situation. It can be helpful to have some guidance on the do’s and don’ts of filing home insurance claims in a time like this.
You might also need some legal advice. A Miami, Florida homeowners insurance attorney could help you navigate through the home insurance claims process.
Do Notify Your Insurance Company Immediately
Home insurance companies have refused to cover claims when the homeowner waited to contact the insurer promptly. Your insurance policy might not define “promptly” in terms of a specific number of hours or days. There have been situations in which the insurance company considered notice of the claim one day after the damage happened too late.
You do not want to have to battle your insurer over an issue like prompt notice. Unless someone needs urgent medical attention or the incident involved a crime, your first call should be to your insurance company.
Do Try to Mitigate the Damages
Your insurance policy will most likely require you to take reasonable measures to limit the losses to your property. For example, if there is a fire, call the fire department immediately. If you can do so safely, you might consider using a garden hose to prevent the flames from spreading until the first responders arrive. If a storm breaks out a window, you might want to prevent interior damage by putting up a tarp.
Insurance companies often send out crews shortly after a major storm to board up windows and take other mitigation measures. You will want to ask your insurer if they will be sending someone to your property for temporary repairs.
Do Not Enter a Crime Scene
If your property got damaged as the result of criminal activity, you should call the police right away. Stay off of the property and do not touch anything. The police need to investigate the crime scene and collect evidence.
Your insurance company will require a police report if your property damage claim involves any criminal conduct. Leave everything alone and stay away from the scene until the police allow you to return. You will have to give a statement to the police. If you do not cooperate with the police, your home insurance company will likely deny your damages claim.
Do Take Photos and Videos in the Moment
Ideally, you will be able to capture photos and videos of the event as it is happening. Doing so will be valuable evidence as to what caused the damage to your property. If you can do so safely, take as many photos and videos as you can as soon as possible.
Be sure to preserve the photos and videos right away by sharing them from your phone as email attachments or downloading them onto your computer. Do not share them on social media because doing so can backfire on you when you have a pending insurance claim.
Do Keep All Your Receipts
Making a home insurance claim can be inconvenient in the best of circumstances. One way to have things go a little more smoothly is to provide receipts to support your claim. For example, if you had to stay in a hotel while your home got repaired, keep those receipts, and submit them with your claim. Also, keep receipts for all mitigation costs and other expenses you incurred because of the damage.
You might have to negotiate with your insurance company or file a lawsuit to receive fair compensation for your losses. A Miami, Florida homeowners insurance attorney can help you in these situations. Contact our office today for a free consultation.