Have you ever had an Ohio homeowners insurance claim? Many of our clients worry because they just aren’t sure what to expect or how the process works. Today I want to walk you through it so you’ll know exactly what to do if you experience a homeowners insurance claim. Note: this is the SAME advice we give our customers. We've also pulled claim examples from our own files.
Review the damage and if you need to take action to prevent further damage, do it. This is actually a requirement in most homeowners insurance policies- to "mitigate" the damage before it gets worse. Here's a great example: a tree falls on your house and pokes a hole in the roof, while in the middle of a thunderstorm. Your first call should be to a roofer or contractor to make temporary repairs so you keep as much water and debris out of the house as possible. Your next step is to move what you can away from the point of entry, whether that's furniture or personal items- move them elsewhere in your house. Another great example: a water pipe leading to your shower breaks. Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve to stop the flow and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the house (now's a great time to mark your main shut-off valve- we have tags that you can wrap around the pipe or handle- just ask!). And if you're gone when this all happens? Get to it as soon as you get home.
Once you've got a handle on preventing further damage, take a minute to consider how much damage you do have. Your homeowners insurance deductible will apply for most claims, so if you don't remember it, call us and we'll be happy to tell you. If the repairs are minor or those you can do yourself, then most likely you won't have a claim. You don’t want to file a claim on your policy if there isn’t enough damage to pay out - it can hurt your claims free discounts or affect your future rates. Read some tips for preventing future claims, along with some common exclusions in an Ohio homeowners insurance policy.
If in doubt of the amount of damage, contact a contractor to get a repair estimate. Once you know the dollar amount, you'll have the information you need to decide whether or not to turn in a claim. Our advice to customers? If the amount to repair is not much over your deductible, you may want to strongly consider NOT turning in the claim and paying out of pocket. Ohio homeowners insurance is designed to help when big situations happen- situations where you don't have the wad of cash sitting around to fix it yourself. Bonus- we work with and insure many local contractors and can offer recommendations for several reputable ones to choose from. You can read our article How to Avoid Contractor Fraud for additional guidance.
If you haven't yet called your agent, and you've discovered you have enough damage to warrant a claim, now's the time. Some insurance companies prefer you call them directly, so find out who you need to call. A representative will take the information over the phone, asking for details about when, where, and how the claim occurred. We can also help get things going quicker. Example: for the tree on the house scenario, we can provide names of contractors or if an emergency, call on your behalf. Another example: say your basement drain plugged and backed up, damaging the floor, drywall and several things you have stored. We can call a restoration contractor to clean up the water and prevent moisture from gathering in the basement. Time is of the essence with these claims, so we can get the professionals on it quickly.
Once your claim is reported, it will be assigned to a claim adjuster. This person is typically the point of contact for all matters of your claim and has the authorization to write checks to help repair your damage. Depending on your damage, they may come to your house to inspect and take pictures. Many adjusters also have the capability to estimate damage as well. You will submit all claim-related paperwork to the adjuster, including inventories of damaged items. invoices, bills, receipts, etc. The adjuster will walk you through the entire process, get all checks written and finish up your claim as quickly as possible. Want an easy way to do a home inventory? Our mobile phone app (for both Apple and Android phones) makes it super simple and you can even send us a copy electronically (this is a bonus especially for our customers!) You can download it here (remember to do it from your phone).
So what happens if something goes wrong? Get Your Insurance Agent Involved!
Maybe you don’t agree on the amount of damage or feel that the information isn’t accurate. Call us! Your agent is your advocate during the claims process. We have spoken with many adjusters on our clients' behalf, and have even gone up the chain of command when necessary, talking to Claims Department Vice Presidents. We can help you interpret what the company needs to settle your claim, forward information to the adjuster, speak to other company personnel, and will fight for you. We understand the language and terms of the insurance industry and can speak that language so you don't have to. And we can take that language and turn it into terms you can easily understand. Having an insurance claim can be stressful- your insurance agent can be your BEST friend during this process. Rely on your agent for guidance and wisdom.
While we typically aren’t involved in the regular process, we’re ALWAYS available to help you get your questions answered and speak to the company on your behalf as needed. Most of the time things will run quickly and smoothly without issue. But if you do experience a problem, we want to help.
Bottom line: If you like our approach and want the same experience, Call us today! We have several excellent Ohio homeowners insurance options that also provide a top-notch claims experience.