Whether hail or wind-driven rain or snow, storms of all sorts can damage property and upend daily life in an instant. When a storm does hit home, you don’t want to be caught off guard by not knowing the nitty-gritty of your homeowner’s insurance policy; or not being able to find a reputable home contractor because everyone in the neighborhood is searching for one, too. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared ahead of time for handling insurance claims. What follows are some straightforward pointers that may help.
KNOW YOUR POLICY
Review your homeowner’s insurance policy every year and any time you switch providers. You need to know key factors, such as your deductible and the time limit to file a claim. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. Many carriers limit claim filing to one year. To find out the type of incidents that are covered, look on the declarations page.
If your home did sustain damage from a hail storm, for example, consider two factors before filing a claim:
- Before requesting a claims adjuster to your home, is your incident covered? If your claim isn’t covered, it’s still recorded as an official claim filed in your CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) database record. Too many claims filed in a relatively short time period can flag you as high risk.
- It’s safe to assume that if you file a claim that your premium is going to increase. So, is filing a claim for the incident worth a premium increase? If it’s a small incident in financial terms, is it better to pay for the damage yourself?
TAKE PHOTOS AND VIDEO OF DAMAGE
You should document any damage to your home, whether you ultimately file an insurance claim or not. If the damage your home sustained is to your roof or siding, call your home contractor to document the damage for you. Don’t climb up on your roof!
Nowadays it’s easy to use a cell phone to take photos and videos. Make sure you take clear, well-lit pictures from several angles. Use objects, such as a business card or ruler, to show perspective, such as documenting hail pock marks in siding. Take wide-angle photos to show perspective of the damaged area in relation to other rooms and the home.
After contacting your home contractor and insurance provider, get in touch with your mortgage lender. If you don’t own your home, your mortgage lender will likely be included in the settlement process. Ask your lender what their procedure is for handling claims.
BE PRESENT DURING ADJUSTER INSPECTION
You should be present during the insurance adjuster inspection. And, always remember, the adjuster works on behalf of the insurance company’s best interest, not on behalf of your best interest. That is your home contractor’s job! So, after obtaining a damage assessment from your home contractor, be ready to give the adjuster your assessment in writing.
Never admit fault, such as, “I’ve been meaning to have that limb cut down for a few years now.” Instead, the limb fell and damaged your roof! One more note about insurance companies and adjusters. Once you file a claim, consider your insurance company an adversary, not your friend. That’s their job.
WORK WITH A REPUTABLE HOME CONTRACTOR
As a responsible homeowner, you certainly want to take good care of your investment. An important factor for good home care is establishing a relationship with a good exterior home contractor. If you wait until your home is damaged to find a reputable home contractor, you’re at a disadvantage.
Good contractors have plenty of regular customers that are going to be making the same call for the same type of home damage estimate that was sustained from the same storm. A good contractor with a stellar reputation may very well not have time to take on a new customer when pressed for time doing storm repairs. The following are key factors for finding the right home contractor:
- Reputable home contractors will be licensed, bonded, and insured.
- Ask if the contractor guarantees their work. At Aurum Contracting, we provide a 5-YEAR CRAFTSMAN WARRANTY, in addition to manufacturer warranties.
- Look at a contractor’s customer reviews on third party sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp.
- Estimates, inspections, and quotes should be FREE with no obligation.
- A reputable home contractor that provides stellar customer service will have an A+ rating with the BBB.
- Only work with a home contracting company that has experience working with insurance companies on behalf of its customers.
If your home has sustained storm damage and you’re not sure if you want to handle the claims process by yourself, call on us at Aurum Contracting to help. We’ll make sure the process flows smoothly and help you get every penny you’re entitled to. Call us today (608) 312-4343!