Have you ever had an Ohio homeowners insurance claim? If you don’t know what to expect, it can be a scary experience. This post walks you through the typical process so you’ll have an idea if you ever need to submit a homeowners insurance claim. NOTE: this is the same process and advice we offer our own customers. We’ve also included real life claims examples where applicable.
Ohio homeowners insurance claim process- Step 1
Review the damage and if you need to take action to prevent further damage, do it. This is actually a requirement in most Ohio 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 to the shower (or worst case scenario, turn off the main shut-off valve for the whole house) to stop the flow and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the house. Your next call should be to a plumber to get the pipe fixed/replaced.
Ohio homeowners insurance claim process- Step 2
Once you’ve got a handle on preventing further damage, take a minute to consider how much damage you do have. REMEMBER- your homeowners insurance deductible will apply for most property claims, so yes it’s possible that the damage does not exceed that deductible. If it doesn’t, then there’s no claim.
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. You can read more about the top 4 reasons to file an insurance claim.
Ohio homeowners insurance claim process- Step 3
You may have done this in Step 2, but if not, 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.
Ohio homeowners insurance claim process- Step 4
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.
If you have an agent- we can 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.
Ohio homeowners insurance claim process- Step 5
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. Or they may ask you to take photos and send. 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 BEFORE the claim? Our mobile phone app (for both Apple and Android phones) makes it super simple.
What do I do if something goes wrong?
Here’s a shameless plug for insurance agents- if your claim goes sideways or you just need some assistance/explanation, we are here to help! Agents can often be the biggest claims advocates you’ll ever have! 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.