Regardless of what type of claim being filed, the first step to making any claim is to contact the insurance agent that issued the policy. The person reporting damages or loss, also known as the policy holder is the person responsible for getting the claim started by initiating contact and making it known to the insurance company that damages have occurred. The insurance agent will ask for some information:
The insurance agent will then begin the claims process and assign an adjuster for the claim. Once an adjuster is assigned to the claim a policy holder can check to be certain that the adjustor is licensed by calling the Insurance Consumer Hotline.
Being able to document every aspect of the loss incurred is helpful to the process. Make as full and complete a description of the property in question for the adjuster. Make a complete list of all items damaged even when there are questions as to the items being covered under the policy. For example, if a claim is made for the home due to storm damage. Include the lamp on the table near the window that was broken when the tree fell onto the home. The claim may be for the damage to the structure but may include incidental damages such as the lamp.
Provide the adjuster not only a list but take as many pictures of the damages as possible without placing oneself in harm's way. If pictures prior to damage occurring do exist provide them to the adjuster as well to ensure things will be returned to a like new state. Do not dispose of damaged property until the adjuster says it is appropriate to do so.
Protect the property from further damage or loss during the claims process. Keep a record of any expenses for make shift and temporary repairs that are made. Those costs too may be covered. Keep all receipts of materials or out of the home accommodations.
It is important that information is shared between the policy holder and the adjuster. Communicating regularly will help insure the process doesn't getting bogged down and delayed. Consult with the adjuster to devise a plan regarding what exactly needs to be replaced or repaired. Understand the dollar amounts in question and reach an agreeable amount with the adjuster. Be sure to follow up on all aspects of repairs while being done. Inspect all work and insist on additional repairs as needed.
The policy holder may file separate claims for structural damage and for property damage. The advantage to that way of filing the claim is that it gives the policy holder more time to fully assess the damages and make repairs. Don't rush to a settlement take the time to be certain repairs are made satisfactorily.
If the insurance company provides the repair crew, make sure they have been licensed to work in that particular state. If the policy holder is dissatisfied with the contractors or repair personnel, they have the option to hire someone else. That may be at the expense of the policy holder if there is a difference in cost.