Filing an Insurance Claim: How to File a Property Damage Claim

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property damage claim

Most people will go their whole lives without having to file a significant property damage claim. If you are faced with the prospect of reporting a large loss to your insurance company, follow these basic steps below as a starting guide, and consider hiring a public adjuster to fight for you if there is a lot of damage.

Standard Steps to filing a claim:

1. Inform your insurance company of the incident
2. Have a meeting with the adjuster from the insurance company
3. Mitigate further damage to your property
4. Make temporary arrangements
5. Inventory damaged items and submit them to insurance
6. Estimate the total cost of repairs and replacement items
7. Perform repairs and purchase replacements
8. Move back into your property

1. Inform your insurance company of the incident

When you have a loss, you need to take immediate steps toward protecting your property. Insurance companies can penalize you for negligence if you do not report damage to them right away.

As soon as you notice a loss or damage has occurred, call your insurance company’s 24/7 hotline to report the incident and begin the claims process. The sooner your report it, the sooner life can start getting back to normal.

2. Have a meeting with the insurance adjuster

Once you have started your property damage claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster to assess the damage. Keep in mind that this is the person who will be your representative at your insurance company throughout the process of your claim, and you will be interacting with them the whole time.

They are either a salaried employee of your insurance company or a contractor that works for them. They will analyze the damage and look at what is and is not covered by your policy to make a determination on what insurance will pay for. Strive to have a pleasant relationship with the insurance adjuster, but know that they are on the side of your insurance company.

3. Mitigate further damage to your property

If the damage to your property is severe enough, it may be recommended that you hire a contractor or restorer that provides 24/7 emergency service to secure the scene, for example, setting up fans after a severe incident of water damage.

An important thing to remember when you are filing a property damage claim is that you have a responsibility to keep anything from getting further damaged. If, for example, there is a hole in your roof from a tree falling, you should cover it with a tarp so that if it rains you do not also have water damage in your home.

If you have a pipe burst and caused water damage, shut off the water main to the home to prevent any further leaks.

4. Make temporary arrangements

If there was serious damage to your home, you may not be able to live in it while repairs are done. If you need to stay in a hotel, rent a car, or make other accommodations while the restoration happens, try to have another family member make these reservations while you are talking to the insurance company so that you aren’t trying to find somewhere to stay late at night.

Also keep in mind that many policies have a maximum per day they will reimburse for hotel and food expenses, so plan accordingly when making your decisions.

5. Inventory damaged items and submit to insurance

You will not be compensated for the items in your home without providing a list to your insurance company of what was damaged or destroyed.  It is a good practice to regularly update an inventory of your possessions with photographs, receipts if possible, and keep it logged somewhere that you can grab quickly or, even better, access digitally.

If you do not have an inventory, gather all of your damaged items, take photographs of them, and estimate their value, then submit that to your insurance company. Be aware that your insurance will compensate you one of two ways: actual cash value or replacement value. 

Actual cash value is the value of your item minus depreciation, so the $2000 computer you bought years ago may only be worth $750 now, and so insurance pays you $750. Replacement value pays for a replacement item, but you have to purchase a replacement and submit the receipt to insurance for reimbursement.

6. Estimate the total cost of repairs and replacements

Your insurance company will likely recommend contractors in your geographical area to conduct repairs for your property damage claim. If you have a lot of damage, it is a good idea to get multiple quotes from different contractors.

If you only ask one repair service to appraise the damage and they undervalue the cost of repairs, you may end up paying out of pocket because your insurance company will not pay the full amount. An experienced public adjuster can also conduct an analysis of the damage and make a recommendation of the cost to repair it. They are like an insurance adjuster, but they are fighting on your side.

7. Perform repairs and purchase replacements

Once you have selected a contractor and approved their estimate, they can start their work. Depending on how severe the loss was, restoring to the pre-loss condition in a property damage claim can take anywhere from a few days to a few months before everything is complete.

If you have to live outside your home for an extended period of time, track all of your expenses so that you can get reimbursed by your insurance company. They add up faster than you think.

8. Move back in

Ah, home sweet home. Your house is repaired, safe, and ready to live in again.

Why You Need Continental Public Adjusters

Continental Public Adjusters is proud to serve the entire state of Florida in handling property claims, and they have the experience to help you get the most out of your policy.

If you have a new property claim, or even worse if your claim is denied, delayed or underpaid, you need an experienced public adjuster.

Continental Public Adjusters will do five key things for you: 

1. Advocate: Our sole responsibility is to make sure you receive the maximum recovery for your loss.
2. Review: A comprehensive investigation helps us understand each specific type of loss. With our experts and consultants, we begin to determine the overall value of your property loss.
3. Estimate: Using the latest cost estimating software to prepare supporting documentation and provide to your carrier.
4. Adjust: We will adjust your claim and negotiate with your insurance company adjuster to reach a settlement meeting your approval, in your best interest.
5. Maximize: We can foresee issues and obstacles in the claims process with the experience that comes from settling thousands of claims, and will work to reach your maximum benefit.

Start with a free consultation with one of our team members to learn about your options. Continental Public Adjusters, Inc. has 38 years of experience successfully settling thousands of claims related to both personal and commercial property in the state of Florida.

We invite you to call us at (800) 989-4769 or email us at info@contpa.com to receive your FREE claim review today