1. Report your loss ASAP
The claims process does not begin until you report your loss. Call your agent or your insurance number and tell them you want to report a loss under your insurance policy. Ask for the name, address, email address and direct telephone number of the person who takes your information. Also, also for the claim number that will be used and request that a confirmation of the claim being reported be faxed or emailed to you that same day.
2. Take reasonable steps to protect your property after the loss
Additional damage may occur following a loss while you are waiting or the insurance company to settle your claim. If damage has left property exposed to weather or theft, you may wish to store it off site or have temporary coverings installed on a building.
3. Be careful
Damaged buildings are hazardous. Resist the urge to immediately begin looking through a building. Wait until a person with sufficient training has given you advice on whether or not you can safely enter the building. In addition, it is best to leave the building undisturbed for examination by the insurance adjuster, unless you need to protect your property in the meantime.
4. Do not sign any document until you have it reviewed by an attorney.
Documents that the insurance company wants you to sign may pose no risk. However, they may also contain releases or waivers that could bar your claim, reduce the amount of your claim or make it more difficult to pursue your claim. If you have any questions about such a document, contact the Insurance Claim Attorneys at Cannon Law, P.C. for answers..
5. Document your claim
Take multiple photos of damaged property. For items that have been destroyed, ask your credit card company for help obtaining records of purchases. Ask friends and family if they have photos of your property and if they will be witnesses as to what was lost. If repairs are needed, contact more than one repair company to obtain estimates of the cost of repair. The insurance company may have someone inspect your property and provide an estimate. However, it is important that you obtain your own estimates.
6. Request and submit a proof of loss form
Insurance policies, other than auto policies, usually contain a requirement that you submit a proof of loss form detailing all of the damage to your property. Request that the company’s form be sent to you as quickly as possible. If you do not receive it promptly, contact your agent and ask the agent to follow up with your insurance company.
If you have any questions about how to fill out the form, contact the Insurance Claims Attorneys at Cannon Law, P.C. for help completing your proof of loss. This is a critical document in the claims process and must be done promptly and properly.
7. Keep accurate notes
Take and keep notes of all communications with insurance company representatives and persons that you have contacted to provide you with estimates. These notes, along with contact information for people you have talked with, should be kept in a notebook so that you can refer to the records easily when needed.
Take and keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance company representatives…record their names, phone numbers, job titles and supervisor’s names. Set deadlines and enforce them. Confirm agreements in writing.
8. Read your insurance policy carefully.
Not all policies provide the same coverage. You may be entitled to full replacement value or just the actual cash value at the time of the loss for damaged or destroyed property, for example. Other portions of the policy will describe what property is covered, what type of damage is covered and what type of damage or causes are excluded from coverage.
Insurance policies, even “Plain Language” policies, contain very technical language that is easily misunderstood. If you have any questions about your policy, contact the Claims Attorneys at Cannon Law, P.C. for assistance.
9. Speak with one of our attorneys before you give recorded or sworn statements
Insurance policies require that you cooperate with reasonable requests for information about your claim. If you are asked to give a recorded statement you may wish to speak with one of our attorneys about your claim before giving the statement or have an attorney present when you give your statement so that your rights are protected. A request for an “Examination Under Oath” may indicate that the company is preparing to deny your claim. We strongly recommend that you meet with us prior to providing an Examination Under Oath.
10. Ask questions
You are entitled to know what is going on with your claim. If you are not receiving prompt responses from the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim, ask your agent for assistance. When anyone comes to view the loss, ask for identification and contact information as well as why they are there.