Texas has been hit hard by severe weather in the last few years and Forney hasn’t been an exception. If your home has been hit by, a hailstorm, severe thunderstorm, tornado or even a hurricane you may need to file a claim on your homeowners insurance policy. Navigating the claims process can be frustrating and confusing, but we are here to help.
Properly preparing before disaster strikes is the best way to make sure you are fully and fairly compensated for your losses. We have put together some of the best practices to make sure you are prepared in the event you have to file a major claim on your homeowners insurance policy.
Read on to learn all you need to know about making a claim on your policy:
What to Do
Only File Major Claims: Your homeowners insurance policy should only be used for major damage. Filing small claims will absolutely impact your premium in a negative way and if you continually file small claims, especially in a short amount of time, your insurance company may decide to cancel your policy altogether. It is best to pay small claims out-of-pocket.
Review Your Policy: It is a good idea to review your policy before making a claim. It will spell out exactly what is covered as well as the steps you should take when contacting your Forney insurance agent or insurance company to file a claim. Read it carefully and pay attention to the details.
File a Claim: Contact your insurance company as soon as it is safe so they can dispatch an adjuster to review your damage and start the claim process. Of course, if you are our client, please contact us and we’ll help you through every phase of the insurance claim process.
One of the major reasons to alert your insurance company as quickly as possible is the fact that many insurers only allow a short window to file a claim after a major disaster. If you end up waiting too long to notify your insurance company you may exceed this window and your claim will be denied and the cost to repair your home will fall to you.
Under no circumstances should you hire a contractor or have work done on your home until you notify your insurance company and an adjuster has seen the damage. Hiring a contractor prior to notifying your insurance company can easily result in a denied claim.
Document Your Loss: You should document your losses as soon as it is safe to return to your home. Take photos and videos of the damage to your home as well as any damaged or destroyed possessions. This will help your adjuster and make sure that your claim is paid in full. When shooting photos and videos make sure you cover all angles and all damage.
Make Temporary Repairs: You will need to secure your home in Forney and possibly make temporary repairs to ensure that further damage doesn’t occur. One example, if your roof has a hole in it you should attempt to coverage with a tarp or other temporary fix to prevent further water damage. Only make temporary repairs if it is safe to do so, never go out on an unstable roof.
The reason you need to do this is that most insurance companies will not cover damage that occurred after the initial event if you do not make reasonable efforts to prevent further damage. Check with your insurance company regarding their policy.
Document Your Claim: Keep detailed records throughout the claim process. Take notes about whom you spoke with, what was discussed, and the agreement that was reached. Keep receipts for everything that relates to your claim. This not only applies to property you need to replace but also incidental expenses such as hotels, food and other expenses you incur in the event that your home is not livable while it is being repaired.
Maintain a Home Inventory: You should always maintain a current home inventory so you can easily document your losses. Update your inventory whenever you make a major purchase or changes to your home. Store your inventory off site or in the cloud so you have access to it in the event your home is completely destroyed.
The home inventory should include receipts, date of purchase, purchase price as well as videos and photos of your possessions.
Actions to Avoid
Filing Lots of Claims: Filing numerous claims over a short period of time will result in a dramatic premium increase and possibly the cancellation of your policy. Homeowners insurance should be saved for major claims. Always pay small claims out-of-pocket so they will not affect your rates.
Assignment of Benefits: While Forney residents have not been victims of this particular scam, it is fairly widespread across Florida and has moved into Texas. Less than honest contractors may ask you to sign an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form, which basically puts them in charge of your claim and the payment process. Less than honest contractors may attempt to receive payment before they have done the actual work.
Accepting a Denial: Always appeal a denial if you feel you have been treated unfairly. Legally, insurance companies are required to give you a written explanation of the settlement amount or the reason for denial and if you disagree it is possible to appeal the decision.
If it becomes necessary to appeal, make sure you have as much documentation as possible. Keep receipts as well as estimates to repair your home and if you’re still unsatisfied you can contact the Texas Insurance Department to file a complaint. Your final option would be to hire a lawyer and let them negotiate with the insurance company.