If your property covered under your home insurance becomes damaged, you may have an obligation to report it to your insurance company. If you are told by a contractor your damages fall under your policy deductible, you should record your damages by taking photographs and keep your repair receipts in case you suffer another loss and have to prove you took care of previous damage.
Once you file a claim, your insurance company may have the right to inspect “as many times as is reasonable” to determine cause and extent of damage and whether it is a covered loss.
You may be required by your policy to report damage in a timely manner and there may be a deadline; if so, it should be stated in your policy.
Once a claim is paid to the insured, most policies set a time limit for having repairs completed. The average deadline is one year, though some states required insurers to allow for two years for repairs. Once you start repairs, if new damage is found and is covered and paid by the insurance company, your deadline may start over from payment date of new damages.
If you cannot have repairs completed by the deadline, you should contact your insurance company or your agent. It is possible you can get an extension if you have a good reason for the delay. If you receive your first payment from the insurance company, and they withheld recoverable depreciation payment until the repairs are completed, you may risk losing that additional payment if you do not have repairs made by the deadline, or receive and extension from your insurance company.
If the deadline has passed and you did not request an extension, still contact your insurance company. If the reason for the delay and failure to request extension is compelling enough, you could – not guaranteed – receive the additional payment if you have a contractor or if the repairs have been completed and you can prove it.
Most insurance companies do not come out and inspect completed work. The repair part of the claim is usually between you and your contractors. This is why it is important to document loss and repairs, take photographs and keep receipts.
Do not assume any damage to your property is automatically covered by your home insurance. Coverage usually cannot be determined or established until an adjuster reviews the damages. Although you will likely speak to several employees once your claim is filed, and some of them may give you advice–sometimes when they should not–you should only take important steps in your claim at the direction of your assigned adjuster. If your adjuster has not yet been assigned, and you need immediate assistance, request that your adjuster be assigned as soon as possible.
Although your agent is not an adjuster, they should be available to assist you if you feel stuck in the process.
Insurance policies and regulations are subject to change at any time, especially following a major storm event. You should always refer to your policy and your agent for the latest up-to-date information. Insurance companies may have slightly different policy requirements and endorsements so do not assume any information provided in this article automatically applies to you. It is meant as a general overview, a guide for basic understanding of the claim process.