Learn all about the steps involved when making a claim.

If the unusually late spring/early winter weather we got in and around New York is any indication, Mother Nature is becoming more unpredictable. In addition to disrupting our daily lives, this extreme weather can also be destructive. Many people found this out the hard way after experiencing damage to their homes. Fortunately, with the help of homeowner’s insurance, many repairs are covered.

If you need to file a claim, the steps below will help guide you through the process. Even if your home is perfectly fine, it’s always good to know just what you’ll need to do in the event of an incident.

Before you need to make a claim

Keep good records

Hopefully, if you do need to make a claim for theft or damage, you had already taken inventory of your possessions. If not, this will be something to remember for the future. You should keep a record of what you own, and while just writing this information down is good, photos or even video is better. Be sure to get model and/or serial numbers for things like electronics and keep receipts for any other expensive purchases.

Stay in touch with your agent

Homeowner’s insurance isn’t just something to get and forget about, and regularly talking to your agent is another good proactive step to take. A yearly conversation, for example, allows you to discuss any changes in your life that could be relevant to your policy. This could include the purchase of new items to cover, or even the adoption of a dog. Your agent will let you know what’s covered under your policy and if you may need any supplemental coverage.

After you need to make a claim

Call in the pros

When something calamitous does happen, it’s important to act quickly. The first step is to contact the right people immediately. For a break-in, you need to call the police. If a pipe bursts, get a plumber on the phone. Not only could this help mitigate further damage, but you’ll also need official reports and records when filing your claim.

Do more record keeping

Just as you’ve (hopefully) documented things beforehand, you need to do the same now. Make a list of everything that’s been affected. Before cleaning up, take photos or video of the entire area. Damaged items – if possible – should be kept until an adjuster comes out to look at them.

Contact your insurance company

Once things have calmed down, it’s time to reach out to your insurance agent or company. Either on the phone or online, you’ll have to provide a lot of information. This will include details like the time and date of the incident, the items affected, and police and medical reports (if applicable). The more information you can provide immediately will help expedite the process.

Think about what you want to claim

Depending upon what was damaged or stolen, it may not be worth making a claim. It really depends on your deductible. If, for example, you have a $500 deductible and the claim is for $600, you might want to hold off. In addition to only getting that $100 from your insurer, this could lead to an increase in your rates. This is why home insurance should be used to cover the only major loses.

Be patient

Even if you’re diligent with contacting your insurance company fast and giving them everything they need, you’ll still probably end up waiting a while to get your claim money. You can, of course, start paying for repairs or replacements out of your own pocket in the meantime, but just make sure these purchases will be covered.

What happens if your claim is denied?

Insurance claims can be denied for various reasons. If this happens to you, call your agent to find out what the issue is. It may turn out that your company just needs more information from you. You might also be able to appeal their decision, in which case your claim would then be reviewed again.

If you have any additional questions about home insurance in New York, the pros at NICRIS Insurance Agency can answer them for you. Give us a call at 516-544-0006 or just fill out our online contact form.