Most home owners have no clue that they’re at a disadvantage when they have an insurance claim for major home damage. It’s not likely that your insurance company told you that the claims process could stretch out for a long time, and require tons of paperwork. Unless you’ve had a prior claim, you just won’t know what to expect from a major home insurance claim.
Here’s some insight from leading Denver roofing and home renovation company Home Guard Restoration, and an experienced insider; a public claims adjuster.
#1 – New Construction May Cost Less
A claim for a total loss of a house can cost less than rebuilding a damaged house. In most cases, new construction costs less per foot than rebuilding. When you start over, you don’t need to consider the existing structure, or worry about bringing your old home up to code.
#2 – Payments May Sit in Escrow
If you have a mortgage, your insurance checks are made out to you and your mortgage company or lien holder. You have to endorse the check to the mortgage company, and the money sits in escrow until the repairs are completed and approved.
#3 – Look Before You Sign
Never cash an insurance check that says “full and final settlement.” You might be cutting yourself off from what you’re entitles to if you discover not all of the repairs were paid for.
#4 – Be Careful With Releases
Don’t sign a release on your home insurance claim or the insurer may be off the hook for any future payments on your claim. Insurance companies have been known to try this if they think there may be a future problem with the claim.
#5 – Maintain Your Standards
Don’t accept poor quality replacements from discount providers like Walmart for your expensive items.
#6 – Living Expenses Should Be Covered
If you’re evacuated, don’t sleep at a shelter. Most home insurance covers “additional living expenses” when there’s a mandatory evacuation. This includes hotels, food, and possibly transportation expenses.
#7 – Check The Costs Locally
Insurance companies don’t always use local claims adjusters. If you are working with an out-of-state adjuster, they may not even be familiar with the local building codes. Instead they rely on a program called Xactimate to estimate costs. This is usually fine. However, if you live in an area where electricians and plumbers charge more, or the cost to rebuild is higher, Xactimate may not be very exact.
#8 – Don’t Settle For Less
Don’t settle for less than the total cost of your repairs because you are tired and just want the claim process to be over. This often happens near the end of a complex claim because it can be so exhausting.
#9 – Save and Submit Your Receipts
When your policy entitles you to the “replacement costs” of your belongings, insurance companies usually issue checks for “actual cash” value. You need to save and submit receipts when you actually replace items in order to get the remainder that’s due to you. Most people lose money because they don’t do this. They settle for less, and the insurance companies know this.
#10 – Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster
Consider hiring a public insurance adjuster if it’s a big claim. A public adjuster will work on your behalf, explain the entire process to you, handle a potentially large number of meetings, and respond to emails, phone calls, and paper work requests. This will allow you to get on with your life.
If you would like to hire a public insurance adjuster, HomeGuard Restoration can refer local experts for your consideration. If you just have a few questions, call us at (720) 708-4126.