We all hope our homes will be immune to fire, theft, and natural disasters. But when the unthinkable occurs, it is helpful to know how to file a homeowner’s claim. Review your policy with your insurance agent at least annually to ensure it reflects your current situation – like your recently upgraded kitchen or remodeled bath.
6 steps on how to file a home insurance claim
1. Have the right Information on hand
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the event. Insurers like Nationwide have 24/7 phone numbers and online apps, in addition to insurance agents, to help you file claims promptly. Have your insurance policy number on hand and, if possible, the name of your agent. You’ll also need to tell the company how to reach you if you had to evacuate.
2. Ask questions
In the initial call, ask any questions and confirm your deductible. If you must relocate, notify the insurer at this time.
3. Keep complete contact information
Compile details for each person you speak with throughout the entire claims process. That includes names, titles and contact information for each person, a summary of the conversation and the dates and times of each interaction. Don’t limit this to insurance contacts. Include interactions with any government officials, such as FEMA representatives or law enforcement.
4. Document damage
Make a list, ideally accompanied with photos, before any repairs are made. Match the losses to your home inventory. That inventory (which should be compiled prior to a loss when all of your possessions are intact) should include the approximate monetary value of each item as well as its photo or description. For antiques or valuable pieces, include photos of makers’ marks.
5. Secure the property and make temporary repairs
This will help to prevent further damage, but only if you can do so safely. This includes locking doors and windows and protecting open areas from the elements.
6. Document expenses
Don’t just focus on the cost of repairs, but also living expenses – hotels and meals – if you had to evacuate. Make sure you understand how your policy covers these additional living expenses as it may be limited to a certain percentage of the total cost, or by a set period of time.
Recovering from disaster or loss can take time, and gathering the needed documentation may not be easy. Knowing what to do and assembling as much information as possible will help you prepare.
For more information learn how to file a claim with Nationwide.