Insurance is an odd purchase, really, in that you put a good amount of time and thought into buying a quality product, in the hopes that you’ll never, ever have to touch it.
Unfortunately, a time may come that you’ll have to make an insurance claim. My aim, if you’re one of my Nashville clients, is to make that process as clear and easy as possible — I’ll help and work with you every step of the way.
Still, it’s good to have an understanding of how the process works, just in case you ever have to jump into it, while dealing with a stressful situation.
Every type of policy has its own processes and details — small business insurance, life insurance, special event insurance. But for the sake of simplicity, here, let’s focus on one of the most common policies: home insurance. (I’ll tackle car insurance soon too.)
What to know ahead of time:
Whether or not you ever make a claim, it’s important to have a clear picture of what your policy does/doesn’t cover. I always go over this in detail with new home insurance clients. Things to know:
— Does your policy cover the full replacement value of your home?
— What kind of liability coverage do you have?
— Is your policy up to date, with any renovations additions (anything from bathroom renovations to new fences or sheds)?
— Will your policy replace belongings, or cover their (depreciated) cash value?
— What’s your deductible?
Things to do ahead of time:
I don’t want my clients to be among those uncertain homeowners. Having an accurate, updated inventory will help you a ton if you have to make a claim, and in the digital age, it’s pretty easy to keep up with. Here’s a list of high-rated home inventory apps that can make listing out your valuables simple and quick.
A little personal advice: Get to know some good contractors too. Having trusted pros you can turn to when stressful situations come up — and feeling confident that repairs/work will be done right — can be a big help.
Getting a claim started:
If you come home to a break-in or a neighbor calls you seeing smoke, obviously your first step is to contact first responders.
When you’ve dealt with the immediate situation, your next call can be to me. (Or if you’re not one of my clients, your insurance company.) If you don’t already know what is/isn’t covered or what your deductible looks like, we’ll go over that, and what the next steps will look like.
I’d encourage you to move quickly, if you’re planning to submit a claim. Homeowners policies dictate that losses are reported as soon as is reasonably possible, and beyond, every state has statutes of limitations that dictate how long you have to make a claim; in Tennessee, it’s a year for personal injury, three years for property damage.
What to expect:
Once the claim is in motion, you can expect to see forms via mail or email soon after. You’ll need to fill those out, and if you have questions, I can help.
Always, feel free to ask:
How long does claims processing usually take?
Should I get estimates for repairs?
Will my insurance company advance for living expenses if we can’t stay at home?
What about gas, mileage, food and other expenses?
You’ll usually hear from an adjuster within a day or two, and he or she will come inspect and document the damage, and report back to the insurance company. (In unusual cases — like a natural disaster when many homes are damaged — you can expect things to take longer.)
Approval/settlement time can vary (things tend to go faster when you have documentation in place). But in Tennessee, you should in most cases expect a response within 60 days.
What to touch/what not to touch:
Until claims adjusters come by, you’ll want to leave damaged items be. Say a contained fire in your kitchen takes out the range, your high-end stand mixer and the right side of your cabinetry. Wait until the adjuster looks things over to get rid of the damaged items.
That said, you can (and should) make any temporary repairs that are necessary for safety/protection. Garage roofs should be tarped if a tree falls. Windows should be boarded if they’ve been broken. Just save receipts/records so you can submit those costs with your claim.
You can/should document everything — take photos and make lists of anything that’s damaged, and cross reference that with the inventory you’ve already kept. This’ll all help with the process.
Usually, with cases of covered damage and homeowners who are clear and on top of the process, there’s paperwork, some back and forth, and then moves toward settlement/payment.
With my clients, my aim is to help make all claims go that way: smoothly, efficiently, and ideally, with as little stress as possible.
As always, if you want to get ahead of this — make sure you have a great home insurance policy in Nashville, and be clear on the ins/outs of that coverage — I’m glad to help. Just give me a call or send me an email.