The homeowners claims process can be difficult to understand. I’ll help you prepare for it.
In the previous article, we saw how “Lucy and Roger” kept receipts, started a journal, assessed the damage, secured their home from further damage and of course, reported the claim.
Now, let’s see how they handled the claims process after these first steps.
Here are seven things they did right. You can follow their steps to get the best outcome possible for your claim.
Step 1: Be tactful and helpful.
Lucy believes the old saying “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
She realized from the first meeting with the claims adjuster that he was working long hours with an irregular schedule. So, Lucy made sure to have everything that the adjuster requested, on time, before every meeting. She was also courteous and patient, which helped the entire process.
Step 2: Create a detailed inventory of your losses.
Roger and Lucy learned that before bids by contractors could be agreed upon, they first all had to agree on the “scope of loss.” That’s a term that simply means... “what’s the precise nature of the damage?”
Roger’s home inventory (the one he created before the house fire), helped establish the scope of their lost personal property. Then Roger worked closely with the adjuster to establish an agreed upon scope of loss for their home, including the quality of construction.
Step 3: Get estimates.
After the scope of loss was agreed upon, it was time to get several estimates from reputable contractors. Roger made sure they chose contractors who were recommended by people they trusted.
Step 4: Understand the process.
Roger made sure that he and Lucy educated themselves on the claims process. They learned that checks for additional living expenses, like their hotel, should be made out directly to them.
But checks for payments to contractors would likely be made out to either the contractor directly, or to the mortgage company who would put the money in escrow and make payments directly to the contractors.
Step 5: Understand your policy.
Here is where their local agent was a tremendous help. They had worked closely with their agent a few years ago to make sure they bought the right coverage.
Now it was time for a refresher course to make sure they understood their benefits correctly. They had several settlement options under the policy. They needed to know them, so they could make the best decisions possible.
Step 6: Keep paying your insurance premiums and mortgage.
Roger to the rescue. He knew that contrary to what others might think, they needed to keep paying their mortgage and insurance premiums. He was right.
Step 7: Don’t settle until you are satisfied.
Lucy was prepared. The insurance company issued a check with language saying, “By cashing this check, you are agreeing to close the claim.”
But she still had concerns, so she didn’t agree to close the claim.
Instead, she made a call to the adjuster’s manager. Within a couple of weeks, they had finally reached a better settlement — one that she and Roger were happy with.
You are always in the driver’s seat. A claim isn’t closed until you say it is.