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Filing Property Damage Claims: 10 Things You Need to Do

Tue Nov 16th, 2021 on     Insurance Claims,    

Filing a claim with your insurance company when your property has been damaged can be an arduous and complicated process, especially when the insurance company attempts to avoid paying the amount you are owed. However, there are steps you can take to help the process move more smoothly. If you have further questions about the process or are currently battling with your insurance company, a Miami insurance claim lawyer at our firm can help.

#1 Report the Damage

It is a requirement that you report the damage to your insurance company. Your policy will state exactly how long you have to notify the insurance company, but the sooner, the better. While an initial phone call may be enough to comply with the terms of your policy, we suggest following up with written notification of the damage.

#2 Document the Damage

Whether or not you recover for the damage to your property, as well as the amount you recover, depends in large part on your ability to prove how the damage occurred and its extent. One of the best ways to do this is by photographing the damage as soon as possible after it happens. It is also a good idea to take videos. This evidence can be very helpful in subsequent arguments over the extent of the damage, and your Miami insurance claim lawyer will thank you for it. 

#3 Become Familiar with the Terms of Your Insurance Policy

Ideally, you should already be familiar with the terms of your insurance policy. However, many people do not take the time to actually read the terms until they need to make a claim. We encourage policyholders to read their policy to ensure they know what they are entitled to under its terms. If you are unable to locate a copy of your policy, you may request one, in writing, from the insurance company. 

#4 Get Everything In Writing

All communication between you and the insurance company and any third-party vendors must be reduced to writing. This helps in the following ways:

  • Ensures that you have a paper trail of exactly what has transpired between you and the insurance company
  • Helps to prove (or disprove) that certain promises have been made between the parties
  • Establishes a written timeline of what happened and when it happened during the claims process

#5 Get Multiple Estimates

Your insurance company will retain contractors to give an estimate of how much it will cost to repair or replace your damaged property. It is important to know that many of these contractors have an ongoing business relationship with the insurance carrier and have an incentive in providing as low an estimate as possible. By obtaining your own estimates, you may get a more realistic picture of how much it will cost to repair or replace your damaged property.

#6 Take a Personal Inventory

You will need to compile a list of everything that was lost or damaged and its value. This can prove a difficult task when you are faced with a large loss, such as the loss of your entire home to a fire. Sometimes, looking at old photographs or videos will help trigger your memory. In addition, it is very helpful if you are able to provide credit card or bank statements that show the cost of large items you are requesting compensation for. Some homeowners have actually documented all their belongings and have an inventory list that was prepared before the damage occurred “just in case.” This type of preparation proves very useful.

#7 If Your Property Damage was Caused by a Fire or Other Possible Criminal Activity, Request a Police Report

Property damage can be caused in a variety of ways, including natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding, or through possible criminal activity, such as arson or vandalism. When the type of damage that occurred requires a police report to be filed, be sure and obtain a copy of the report and provide it to your insurance company, as well as your Miami insurance claim lawyer

#8 Prepare For A Visit From The Insurance Adjuster

An insurance adjuster is a person that investigates claims filed by policyholders to determine what they are worth. The insurance company will likely send an insurance adjuster, hired by them, to your property to examine the damage so they can determine what amount you should receive under your claim. Before the adjuster arrives and during their visit, there are certain steps you can take to help ensure the inspection goes well:

  • Have a list prepared of all damage that occurred, and be prepared to walk the adjuster through so they can see everything
  • Do not move or dispose of anything damaged until the adjuster has visited and seen the damage in person
  • Have copies of all helpful documentation, such as receipts, estimates, and home inventory
  • Be careful of what you say; the adjuster may be looking for reasons to offer you less than the amount it will cost to repair or replace your damaged items

#9 Ask Questions

Filing a claim after having your property damaged or destroyed will likely cause you to have many questions and concerns. While many of the answers may be found in the policy itself, do not be afraid to ask the insurance company if other issues arise. If any of the concerns you have are legal in nature, speak with a Miami insurance claim lawyer that can review your case and address your queries.

#10 Retain A Miami Insurance Claim Lawyer

The goal of your insurance carrier is to settle your claim for as little as possible. There are specific tactics they will use to do this, including pressuring you to take a quick settlement. Therefore, it is important that you have a Miami insurance claim attorney on your side, ensuring that your best interests are being represented. At Ver Ploeg & Marino, we have decades of experience representing policyholders just like you. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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