How To Speed Up An Insurance Claim For Property Damage
Insurance claims often take longer than expected.
Unfortunately, some insurance companies use this to their advantage. They demand excessive evidence, for example, or deliberately drag their feet. The longer a claim drags out, the more likely a homeowner will accept a settlement – even if it’s lower than expected.
In other cases, the insurance company is not acting maliciously, but the claim is so complicated that it takes months to process.
Whatever the situation may be, it’s important to understand how to speed up an insurance claim.
By speeding up an insurance claim, you get money in your bank account sooner – at a time when you need it most.
We’re sharing some of the tips, tricks, and strategies anyone can use to speed up a homeowners insurance claim.
Before a Claim: How to Proactively Speed Up an Insurance Claim
Some of the best opportunities to speed up an insurance claim occur before a disaster.
By creating an inventory and keeping separate copies of important documents, for example, you can drastically speed up an insurance claim.
Even if you’re in the middle of a claim, the tips below can help avoid headaches for your next claim.
Take a Regular Inventory of your Home and Possessions
If you’re in the middle of a claim, then it’s too late for this tip. However, maintaining a good home inventory can speed up an insurance claim.
If you are currently dealing with a home or commercial insurance claim that involves lost or damaged personal property, then getting your inventory of damaged items and proof of loss forms thoroughly and accurately completed will help expedite the claim process.
Many people keep an inventory of all of their possessions in their home. You might have a binder, notebook, or spreadsheet listing your possessions, their approximate value, and any accompanying receipts or photographs.
This is less important for low-value items – like cutlery or a shampoo bottle. However, it’s important for higher-end items, including televisions, jewelry, and other valuables.
Many insurance companies require additional documentation when replacing high-value items – say, anything worth more than $500. If you have a home inventory, you can quickly provide your insurance company with the proof they need to reimburse you.
Set aside one day every 6 or 12 months to refresh your home’s inventory. A good, accurate, well-maintained home inventory could speed up your claim by months.
Keep Copies of All Important Documentation
In a house fire or other serious disaster, you might lose everything. Replacing important documentation is difficult and time-consuming. However, it’s much less difficult and time-consuming if you have copies of all important documents.
Consider making copies of the following documents:
- Mortgage information
- Land titles
- Insurance forms
- Birth certificates, passports, and similar documents
Make copies of all your important documents today. Keep these copies in a folder and leave them in a secure location – like a fireproof and waterproof safe, a safety deposit box, or the home of a trusted friend or relative.
Or, pack these copies in an emergency kit with other important items, making them easy to grab before disaster strikes.
In a major disaster, you might lose the original versions of these documents. If you have copies, it speeds up your entire recovery process – including your insurance claim.
During the Claim: How to Get an Insurance Settlement More Quickly
There are steps you can take during the claim to speed up the claims process.
Take Photos and Videos of the Damage ASAP
After a major insurance claim, your insurer requires evidence of the damage. Take photos and videos of the damage as soon as possible.
Remember: the restoration company will start to restore and repair the damage. If you don’t take photos or videos of the damage today, then you might miss your opportunity.
You might claim your $1,500 TV through your insurance, for example, only to find you have no evidence of the damaged TV. The TV has already been removed from your property by the restoration crew.
Once it’s safe to do so, take photos and videos of the damage around your property. The more evidence you have, the smoother and faster your claim will be.
Take Steps to Limit Further Damage
Homeowners insurance and commercial property insurance policies cover unexpected events – like a house fire. Your insurance policy does not, however, cover damage that occurs after a covered event that could have been avoided – like rain damage that occurs for weeks after a fire previously tore a hole in your roof.
That’s why it’s crucial to limit further damage to your property after a disaster. Take steps to mitigate further damage. Put up tarps to cover holes in your roof. Remove damaged items if needed to prevent further damage. Contact a 24/7 emergency restoration crew as soon as possible.
Be Present When the Adjuster Inspects the Damage
Your insurance company should send its adjuster to your home to inspect the damage. This is a normal part of the claim process. The adjuster inspects the damage, determines coverage, and analyzes the scene.
It’s important to be there when the adjuster arrives. When you’re on scene, you can explain exactly what happened to the adjuster. You can answer questions, solve ambiguities, and identify exactly what was damaged.
Your insurance company’s adjuster plays a crucial role in the claims process. You will interact with the adjuster regularly. If you’re present from the first moment your adjuster arrives, you start the relationship on the right foot. If you haven’t already met with the insurance adjuster for a property inspection, then be sure to read these tips as well.
Keep the Receipts
Your homeowners insurance policy covers additional living expenses (ALE). These expenses include hotel accommodations, meal expenses, personal hygiene items, and other costs you incur after moving out of your home.
Your claim will go more quickly if you have receipts for all of these expenses. Your insurance company will ask how much you spent after moving out of your home. If you can provide specific receipts instead of vague numbers, then your insurance company is more likely to approve your claim – and not request further evidence to slow down your claim.
Receipts to track after a loss include:
- Hotel accommodations, including the cost of staying with any friends and family
- Emergency restoration costs
- Any supplies and materials used to control the scene after damage
- Rental car costs
- Meals and food receipts
- Personal hygiene expenses and all other additional living costs you would not normally incur if your house was in livable condition
After the Initial Damage: Be Proactive to Speed Up Your Insurance Claim
As your insurance claim proceeds, you can take further steps to speed up your insurance claim.
Review your Policy
Most homeowners have insurance, but many homeowners don’t understand exactly what’s covered. You might pay thousands per year for home insurance – only to realize it doesn’t cover flooding and other significant issues.
Review your policy. It makes all other aspects of your claim easier. If you don’t know your policy, then you’re negotiating from a position of weakness. Homeowners take advantage of this weakness to pay you less for your insurance claim – or drag your claim out.
Keep Records of All Conversations with your Insurance Company
Insurance claims can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s crucial to keep records of all conversations with your insurance company to avoid any misunderstandings.
Every time you talk to your adjuster or anyone else from your insurance company, make notes about the conversation.
Your notes should include:
- Topics covered during the conversation
- Specific claims or promises made during the conversation
- The name of the employee or adjuster
- The date and time of the conversation
Ideally, your claim proceeds smoothly and your insurance company abides by its promises. In many cases, however, your records of these conversations become important.
Keep track of all phone conversations, emails, text messages, voicemails, and other communications between you and your insurance company. It’s an easy way to speed up the insurance claim by creating a physical record of the claim process.
Submit your Proof of Loss
Your insurance company requires you to submit a “Proof of Loss” document to back up your claim.
This is a crucial document. It outlines important details of your claim. You need to complete this document and return it in a timely manner.
The sooner you complete the Proof of Loss form accurately, the faster your insurance company can process your claim.
Note: Some insurance companies try to trick policyholders with Proof of Loss forms. Your insurer might ask you to submit your ‘proof of loss’, for example. You submit receipts, invoices, estimates for repairs, evidence of damage, and other expenses. Then, your insurer denies your claim because you did not submit the specific Proof of Loss form. Be wary of this trick.
Obtain a Second Opinion from a Trusted Contractor
Your insurance company might recommend a specific contractor or restoration company.
Ideally, this contractor is honest, offering competitive service compared to other contractors in your area.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the contractor recommended by your insurer underreports the damage to limit the claim. Or, the contractor might use poor-quality materials to lower the cost of repairing the damage.
Get a second opinion. Contact home-builders or contractors in your area.
You don’t have to use your insurance company’s recommended contractor. You can use any contractor you like.
If there’s a dispute about the value of the claim, it helps to have a second opinion. Your insurance company might claim it only costs $25,000 to repair your roof, for example, when it really costs $45,000 based on the actual repair costs in your area. Without a second opinion, you might receive $25,000 for your claim – and then pay $45,000 for your new roof.
Understand your Legal Rights
All states have insurance laws that govern how insurers respond. Your state has laws requiring insurance companies to respond to claims within a certain length of time, for example.
Check your state insurance commissioner’s website for information about insurance claim laws. If you feel your insurer has treated you unfairly, then review your state’s Unfair Claim Practices act, which outlines when insurance companies are acting in bad faith.
Respond Promptly to Your Insurance Company
All states require insurance companies to respond to your claim within a reasonable length of time. Some states have specific lengths during which the insurer must address the claim – say, 15 to 45 days.
These rules also apply to policyholders. As the policyholder, you need to respond to your insurance company within a reasonable length of time.
If your insurance company asks for documentation, then you should provide that documentation as soon as possible.
If the insurance company is demanding excessive documentation, or if the insurance company is dragging its feet while expecting fast responses from you, then this is a separate issue, and your insurer could be acting in bad faith.
Contact your Insurance Company Repeatedly to Avoid Wasting Time
If your insurance company is taking too long to respond, then be diligent.
Continue contacting your insurance company. Reach out to your insurance company regularly. Check the status of your claim. Ask if they need additional documentation. Find out why your claim is taking too long.
Some insurance companies are slower than others. Some insurance companies are understaffed. Others are overwhelmed by an excessive number of claims – say, after a natural disaster in your local area.
By contacting your insurance company, you ensure the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You show your insurance company you’re proactive about your claim – and you’re not going to wait too long for a response.
After Claim Disputes: How to Fight Back and Get a Faster Settlement
All of the tips above apply to normal insurance claims. By providing your insurance company with documentation and maintaining good communication, you can speed up 90% of insurance claims.
Unfortunately, not all insurance claims go smoothly. Some insurance companies act in bad faith. Other insurance companies deliberately drag their feet or offer an insultingly low settlement.
In this case, you might need to take further action. Here are steps to take to speed up your insurance claim after a claim dispute.
Deny, Negotiate, and Fight Back
Many homeowners are unaware they can deny their insurer’s payout. If you are unhappy with your insurance company’s offer, then you can deny, negotiate, and fight back.
Deny your insurance company’s initial offer. Fight back by providing additional documentation. Negotiate with your insurance company until you receive an acceptable payout.
Hire Professional Assistance
Every year, insurance companies victimize thousands of property owners across the United States.
Many insurance companies take advantage of naïve policyholders. Most property owners only have one or two significant claims in their life. You might not understand how claims work or what to expect. Insurance companies may take advantage of your inexperience.
If your insurance company is:
- Pushing you around
- Denying or reducing your claim without just cause
- Dragging its feet or taking too long
Then consider hiring professional assistance in the form of a public adjuster or an insurance attorney.
ClaimsMate’s public adjusters offer free consultations. We’ll review your claim, then explain how we could help speed up your insurance claim.