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Residential Property Claim Guide

claim guide for residential property

What To Do After Residential Property Loss

Contact a Public Adjuster

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Working with a public adjuster, particularly after a denied or confusing property claim, can be a wise decision for several reasons:

  • Higher settlement: It is more likely that you will receive a settlement that is up to four times greater than if you were to deal with the claim process alone.
  • Expertise guidance: We can help you understand your policy, navigate the claims process, and ensure you file all the necessary paperwork correctly.
  • Time efficient: We can handle most of the communication and paperwork related to your claim, freeing up your time to focus on other priorities.
  • Advocacy: Our team can represent your interests when dealing with the insurance company on your behalf.

At Fortitude Public Adjusters our licensed professionals specialize in advocating for policyholders during the insurance claims process. They possess in-depth knowledge of insurance policies, coverage details, and the claims process, which can be invaluable when navigating complex or disputed claims.

Public adjusters work solely on behalf of YOU, ensuring your interests are prioritized and that you receive the maximum compensation for your losses. In cases of denied claims or ambiguous policy language, public adjusters can conduct thorough investigations and provide expert guidance.

Contact us today if you require help with your residential property insurance claim!

Safety FIRST

Collapse Damage

First and foremost, prioritize the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Evacuate the property if necessary and contact emergency services if there are any immediate threats to health or safety.

Document Damage

Take thorough documentation of the damage to your property. Photographs, videos, and written descriptions can serve as vital evidence during the claims process.

Notify Your Insurance Company

Your insurance company may send you a claim form, known as a “proof of loss” form, to complete. Promptly report the loss to your insurance provider. Follow their instructions for filing a claim and provide all requested information and documentation.

Mitigate Further Damages

Note: before doing this, make sure to talk with your insurance company or your assigned insurance adjuster before moving or removing debris. You should take reasonable steps to prevent further damage to your property. This may include temporary repairs or securing the premises like covering leaks, boarding up broken windows, etc.

Keep Records Of Everything

Maintain detailed records of all communications with your insurance company, including dates, times, and individuals spoken to. This would also be a good time to obtain contractor recommendations for any repairs that need to be made.

This may also be a helpful way to lay out item documentation:

Item #Household roomBrandModel #Item DescriptionQuantityItem ageEstimate replacement cost
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Filing a Residential Property Claim

home property damage

The Paperwork Process

Make sure you are familiar with your policy documents, including the details of your coverage, the deductibles, and any exclusions. Documentation, such as police reports, photographs, estimates, proof of ownership, and receipts, if applicable, should be gathered.

Compliance with Requirements & Timely Submission

Take your time to figure out all the details needed for your claim before you rush to meet this deadline. It’s also important that you don’t drag your feet to finish this last minute. You should file your claim within the timeframe specified in your policy, usually within 60-90 days.

After contacting your insurance, they will send an insurance adjuster to come look and document the damages themselves. This is how the insurance company will determine a settlement for what they think they owe based on various factors including policy specifications.

What is Covered in Your Homeowner Policy

Types of insurance coverage table

Homeowner’s insurance policies typically cover a range of perils, including fire, theft, vandalism, windstorms, and certain natural disasters. However, coverage can vary depending on your policy’s specific terms and conditions. Review your policy documents carefully to understand the extent of your coverage and any exclusions that may apply. Standard policies typically include coverage for:

Dwelling (structure of your home)

“Dwelling” coverage, often a component of homeowners insurance, refers to the part of the policy that protects the physical structure of your home. This coverage typically includes the house itself, as well as attached structures such as a garage or deck. Start by identifying structural damage to your home and any other buildings on your property. This will allow you to compile a list of all the damage you want to show to the insurance adjuster when they visit. This list should include instances of wall cracks, floor or ceiling damage, and missing roof tiles. If you suspect unseen structural damage, discuss this with your adjuster.

Personal property (contents of your home)

“Personal property” coverage is a component of homeowners or renters insurance that protects your belongings or possessions. This coverage typically includes items such as furniture, electronics, clothing, and appliances, whether they’re inside your home or temporarily located elsewhere. In the event of covered perils like theft, fire, or vandalism, personal property coverage helps reimburse you for the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings, up to the policy’s limits and subject to deductibles. Try to recall where and when you purchased your items and approximately how much they cost. Recording your belongings in each room is an effective way to document any future damage to your personal property.

Additional living expenses (temporary living arrangements if your home is uninhabitable)

If your property isn’t habitable, remember to save all receipts related to your relocation, such as for emergency housing, clothes, and meals. These additional expenses might be covered by the “loss-of-use” part of your insurance policy. You’ll need to account for any expenses covered, so make sure to keep all bills and receipts. Any upfront payments you receive will be deducted from your final insurance settlement. Included in additional living expenses are things like food and housing costs, as well as the cost of setting up utilities in a temporary home. Other eligible costs under this coverage include extra travel costs for commuting to work or school, costs associated with moving and storage, and the rent for temporary furniture. Your insurance company typically provides advance payments for these additional costs.

Residential Water Damage/Flood Insurance

Homeowners insurance doesn’t include coverage for flood damage, yet it does provide coverage for various other types of water-related damage. For example, if rain causes damage through a hole in the roof or a broken window, the policy generally covers it, given that the damage was caused by winds or other exposures specified in the policy. If you experience water damage, it’s advisable to consult with your insurance company to confirm if it’s covered. For flood coverage, you would need to add a separate policy in addition to your standard homeowner’s insurance.

Replacement Cost Value Vs. Actual Cash Value

When filing a claim for damaged or stolen items, it’s essential to understand the difference between replacement cost value and actual cash value:

  • Replacement Cost Value (RCV): This coverage reimburses you for the cost of replacing your damaged or stolen items with new items of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation.
  • Actual Cash Value (ACV): This coverage reimburses you for the current value of your damaged or stolen items, taking depreciation into account. As a result, the payout may be lower than the cost of replacing the items with new ones.

To learn more about the specifics of RCV vs ACV you can read our blog, “ACV Versus RCV: What Are The Differences?”.

What To Do if You Disagree with Your Settlement

If you believe the settlement offered by your insurance company is insufficient or unfair, you have options. If you need assistance, reach out to your local Public Adjuster, like Fortitude, to go through your claim. You may be able to negotiate more effectively with a public adjuster on your side. Otherwise, here are some ways you can reassess your settlement:

  • Review Your Policy: Carefully review your insurance policy to understand the terms and coverage limitations.
  • Request a Reassessment: Provide additional documentation or evidence to support your claim and request a reassessment from your insurance company.
  • Negotiate: If necessary, negotiate with your insurance adjuster to reach a fair settlement. Consider seeking assistance from a public adjuster or legal counsel if you encounter difficulties.
  • Talk to the Claims Manager: Don’t hesitate to contact the claims manager if you have questions concerning the claims settlement offer and have given the claims adjuster a chance to answer them.

What To Do if Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim Gets Denied

There are many reasons why a homeowner’s insurance claim can be denied, but if you feel like your claim was wrongly denied, please take the following steps:

  • Understand the Reason: Request a detailed explanation for the denial from your insurance company.
    Review Your Options: Review your policy and consult with a public adjuster to understand your options for appeal or recourse.
  • File an Appeal: If you believe the denial is unjustified, file an appeal with your insurance company. Provide any additional evidence or documentation to support your case.
  • File a Complaint: If all other avenues have been explored, filing a complaint with your State Insurance Department may be necessary. Upon receiving a complaint, the department usually investigates to determine if the insurance company has breached any state laws or regulations. They collaborate with the insurance company to address the complaints and, if necessary, undertake legal measures against the company for any identified violations of state laws or regulations.
  • Seek Legal Assistance: If necessary, consider seeking legal representation to escalate your claim or pursue alternative dispute resolution methods.

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