If you have never filed an insurance claim before, the process can seem daunting. The following will provide information regarding the claims process and what you should expect after filing a property insurance claim.
What To Do When You Have a Loss
- Report any crime to the police – if your home has been burglarized, vandalized, or you are the victim of theft or arson.
- Take photos or video – to record the initial damages for the claims adjuster. If possible, try to do this prior to any damage mitigation (discussed below). Also, it is a good idea to not throw anything out until you have been advised to do so by your claims adjuster. Typically, claims adjusters like to visually inspect all damaged items.
- Mitigate the damage, if necessary – often, a property insurance policy will require the policyholder to mitigate the damage and keep the home/property from sustaining additional damage once a loss has occurred. This may require the assistance of a mitigation company, plumber, or contractor. Regardless if you involve any professionals or complete minimal repairs yourself, keep all receipts for mitigation to submit to your claims adjuster for possible reimbursement.
- File a claim – most insurance companies have a dedicated telephone number for insureds to report claims. Some insurance companies also have claim reporting tools available on their website. If you are unable to report your claim to your insurance company, try calling your insurance agent for assistance.
- Prepare a list of lost or damaged items – especially if your loss involves damage to personal property. Be as specific as possible about the brand name, model number, serial number, measurements, etc. of each listed item. Be honest about the value you place on each item and provide documentation to support high-valued items. Completing a home inventory checklist is easier to do before you have a claim, so take the time as soon as possible to record your personal property.
- Do not be shy about asking questions – about the claim anytime during the claims process. Contact your insurance company for questions or call the Idaho Department of Insurance if you are having problems with your claim.
What to Expect After Filing a Claim
After the claim has been reported, a claims adjuster will do an investigation to determine the amount of damages covered by your insurance policy. You can help this process by providing as much information and/or documentation about the loss as possible.
Often, this investigation will include a conversation with you to obtain your version of the facts of the claim. If any other parties are involved in your claim, such as a mitigation company or contractor who also inspected the damages, your claims adjuster may attempt to contact them as well.
Review of Your Policy
Once the investigation of the damages is complete, the adjuster will carefully review your policy to determine what is and is not covered under your policy and determine the amount of your deductible.
In order to accurately evaluate the extent of the damage, your claims adjuster may hire appraisers, engineers, or contractors to provide their expert advice. If by this point you have chosen a contractor and they have evaluated the damages, it is common for your claims adjuster to discuss the scope and estimate of damage with your chosen contractor and make a plan to move forward with the repairs.
Discussion of Settlement
Typically, once your claims adjuster has determined the scope of damage, how much it will cost to complete the repairs, and the amount of coverage provided by your policy for the loss, he/she will provide this information to you and will discuss the repair and settlement process.
Property Claims Tips
- Be sure to ask your claims adjuster whether your policy provides coverage for Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value.
- Replacement Cost is the cost to replace or rebuild an item of similar quality using materials and goods available after the loss occurs and without subtracting for depreciation.
- Depreciation is the loss in value of property as it ages or experiences normal wear and tear. Methods for calculating depreciation can vary by insurance company.
- Actual Cash Value is calculated by subtracting the depreciation from the replacement cost and is the value of the item at the time of the loss, not what it costs to replace it with a similar, brand new item.
- If your policy provides Replacement Cost coverage, it is common that your insurance company will pay you the Actual Cash Value of your loss up front. Then, once you have completed the repairs or replaced the damaged items, you should receive payment for the depreciated amount (replacement cost minus actual cash value).
- Always check with your insurance company or claims adjuster to confirm whether your damages are covered under your policy and if there are any limitations or exclusions. Before you approve any repairs to your damages, be sure to obtain confirmation from your insurance company in writing whether you have coverage. Be cautious when being approached by anyone offering to assist you with the settlement of your claim, or offering to give you advise about insurance coverage or your insurance claim. If you have any concerns regarding your insurance company, claims adjuster, or insurance agent, please contact the Idaho Department of Insurance for assistance.
- Carefully read any contract you receive from a contractor before you sign it.
- The Idaho Department of Insurance does not have the ability to adjust your claim or determine the cause or value of your loss. Our role is to ensure that the insurance company is compliant with the Idaho Insurance Code and your policy provisions in the handling of your claim.
- If you do not agree with the insurance company’s initial determination of the cause or value of your loss, you have the option to provide documentation from your expert that supports your expert’s professional opinion regarding the value and/or cause of your loss to your claims adjuster for review and consideration.
- Your insurance policy might not pay to match undamaged portions of items involved in your claim, such as carpet that is installed throughout your home, siding, roof shingles, cabinets, etc. Often, matching is address in your insurance policy provisions. Check your policy or ask you claims adjuster to highlight the provisions in your policy that address matching if you are unsure where to look.
- Public adjusters who represent an insured in their property claims are required to be licensed and bonded by the state of Idaho in order to protect consumers. There are reputable public adjusters who act in the best interest of the consumer. Reputable, licensed adjusters typically will NOT also provide the repair work or act as the contractor nor will they engage in door to door solicitation.
Have more questions?
Contact the Consumer Affairs team: