When your home is damaged in a storm, filing a claim with your insurance company is just the start of the restoration process. To protect your rights under your policy and ensure that your home is repaired appropriately, it will be important to take an active role in managing your claim from start to finish.
As you prepare to go through the homeowner’s insurance claim process, here are seven tips to help ensure that you receive full coverage under your policy:
1. Contact Your Insurance Company, Not Your Insurance Agent
Your insurance agent is an intermediary who may or may not work directly for your insurance company. To avoid delays and miscommunications, you should file your claim directly with your insurer. Call the phone number on your policy documents, or file your claim through your insurance company’s official app or website.
2. Document the Damage to Your Home
Before you attempt to clean up or make any temporary repairs, document the damage to your home as thoroughly as possible. Take photos and video with your phone or camera, take detailed notes, and make a list of items that have been lost or damaged.
3. Make Any Necessary Temporary Repairs
Under the “mitigation” provisions of your homeowner’s insurance policy, you may have an obligation to make temporary repairs in order to avoid further damage to your home. You can make these repairs yourself or hire a contractor; and, in either case, you should be sure to comprehensively document your expenses.
4. Read the Fine Print Before Accepting Advance Payment
While it is fine to accept advance payment under appropriate circumstances (and FEMA has adopted advance payment procedures for flood insurance claims), it is important to read the fine print before you accept a check. Your insurance company may attempt to obtain a waiver of your rights, but you need to protect your rights until your claim is final.
5. Be Wary of Any Request for an Assignment of Benefits (AOB)
With an Assignment of Benefits (AOB), your contractor obtains the right to receive payment directly from your insurance company. This can create issues for you as a homeowner, and FEMA has recently issued warnings about the risk of AOB fraud.
6. Work with a Public Adjuster
When you have a homeowner’s insurance claim, working with a public adjuster can prevent your insurance company from undervaluing the damage to your home. Unlike your insurance company’s adjuster, the public adjuster you hire works for you, and his or her job is to help enforce your rights under your policy.
7. Be Present for Any Insurance Company Inspections
Regardless of whether you hire a public adjuster, you should try to be present any time your insurance company’s adjuster visits your home. Make sure the adjuster inspects all of the damage, and take notes if you disagree with anything the adjuster says or have questions about anything the adjuster does during the inspection.
Questions? Contact the Fort Lauderdale Property Damage Lawyers at Saavedra | Goodwin
If you have questions about your homeowner’s insurance claim and would like to speak with an attorney, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To speak with a property damage lawyer at our offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL, please call (954) 767-6333 or request an appointment online today.