Few things are as stressful as damage to your home and property, and dealing with the insurance company is no easy task. Between the paperwork, inspections, and complicated language, it can feel like you’re on unsteady ground.

To better prepare yourself for what’s to come, ask yourself these three questions.

#1 Do you need help with your claim?

When you make a claim, you have the option of hiring an insurance claims adjuster or insurance lawyer who works for you. These are professionals who know the ins and outs of insurance claims and policies. They’ll help you understand your policy and they will review the offer from the insurer. They’ll tell if you if it’s fair and reasonable, and if it’s not, how to make sure you don’t lose out.

However, you will have to pay them. Is it worth your while? Generally speaking, for small claims, it may not be worth it. But when it comes to major claims such as those for fire or flood damage, the assistance of an insurance claims adjuster or lawyer can make a major difference in the amount of money you receive.

#2 How can you get the most out of your home insurance claim?

Be thorough when you’re filing your claim. Don’t leave any lost or damaged belongings out of your claim. Be sure to carefully document damage to the structure once you’re allowed access to the site.

For the sake of expediency, you may want to send your insurer your Schedule of Loss sooner than later. This document is a complete list of all the belongings lost or damaged. It’s going to be long. It should include everything from furniture and electronics to individual items of clothing. Each item is assessed and its replacement value estimated by the insurance adjuster.

You can send a provisional Schedule of Loss before signing off on a final version, and it’s wise to do so. Think about how many times you’ve sent an email or a work assignment, and as soon as you’ve hit send, you think of something you wanted to add. Make sure to advise your insurance adjuster that your Schedule of Loss is not final.

The most effective way to make sure you receive a fair settlement from your insurer is to review your policy or have a professional review it with you and make sure that you’re receiving everything that you’re entitled to. Your policy will tell you what your coverage limits are, what type of coverage you have, your deductibles, and more essential information.

#3 Have you compromised your claim in any way?

There are some things you can do that will compromise your claim. These are some of the most common mistakes homeowners make that can put your claim at risk:

  • You didn’t keep up with maintenance. Your insurer expects you to keep up regular maintenance and may refuse to pay for damages if they’re related to negligence. For example, you may not receive any compensation for water damage due to a storm if your roof has been neglected.
  • You didn’t notify your insurer of an extended absence. If you take a long vacation and your home is empty, your insurer may want a house sitter or someone who can check in on your home every few days.

By approaching your insurance claim with these questions answered, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and what you need to do to ensure your claim is a smooth process.

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