Accidents happen whether you like it or not, and luckily when they do you have insurance to take care of the damage. However, navigating the insurance process for anything beyond a minor claim can be both intimidating and confusing. It’s important you ensure you are fairly reimbursed for the damages. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, this can be extremely difficult.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how insurance clams work and break down some key elements of the insurance claim process and what you can expect.
How Do Insurance Claims Work?
First, keep in mind there are a variety of different insurance types including:
These are just some of the more common insurance types, but there are many more. Each type of insurance has a different claim process. This is one of the reasons why working with an insurance adjuster is so important. No individual can expect to be a pro at navigating the various insurance types they have. So if you have a major claim, you should lean on a professional to do the heavy lifting for you.
While the processes vary depending on the insurance type, there are a few commanlities in the process.
If you’ve suffered damage to your property the first thing you should do is review the details of your coverage. This may let you know right away whether the damage will be covered and give you more insight to your rights which will help you file your claim.
Basic Steps for Filing an Insurance Claim
Contact Your Insurance Company
As soon as you’ve suffered a loss, regardless of whether or not you’re sure it’s covered under your policy, you should contact your insurance company regarding the details of the incident.
Even if you decide not to file a claim, it’s very important to maintain contact with your insurance agent throughout the process. Your agent can help you understand the details of your policy, plus there are often rules regarding the amount of time you have to file your claim. If it’s a large claim this is also a good time to contact an insurance claims adjuster to assist you throughout the process.
Whether you pursue the claim on your own or with an adjuster, the following steps will still be the same. The only difference is you will have someone actively advocating on your behalf.
Fill Out and Organize Your Paperwork
Once you’ve filed your claim with your insurance company, you may be asked to fill out forms or give a statement regarding the accident, damage, or loss. You may also need to submit photographs, so it is important you properly document the damage sustained right away. The paperwork and evidence you submit helps your insurance agency determine the level of compensation you’ll receive so it’s important to be very detailed or thorough.
These steps will help your insurance company determine the exact details surrounding the peril and decide to what extent your policy covered the damage or injuries.
Have Your Damages Appraised
This is the stage where most insurance companies deploy an adjuster or a third-party contractor to assess the full extent of the damages you’ve reported.
If you’ve filed an auto insurance claim, this part of the insurance claim process may involve coordinating with a local mechanic or body shop instead of having someone issued to conduct the repairs.
Pay Your Deductible
This part of the insurance claim process prior to a payment being issued typically involves paying your deductible. This will vary depending on the type of claim you are making, and your policy.
Submit Your Claim
Once your insurance company receives your claim, they will send out an adjuster from their company or a company they hired to look at the damage. The adjuster will come to inspect your property, review the damage, and ask you questions about the damage and condition of the property before the damage was done.
They will determine if you will get funds (a settlement) to make repairs or if they will reimburse you for a total loss. You can provide estimates from your own research about the costs of repairing the damage to make sure you get a fair settlement.
If you are working with a private insurance adjuster they will deal with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. Keep in mind that they are not the same person. One is someone hired by you, the customer, the other works for the insurance company directly.
How Long Will it Take to Get My Settlement?
There are many factors involved in determining how long it will take your insurance company to determine your settlement.
This may include:
- The extent of the damage
- The length of time it takes them to send an adjuster
- Whether you and your insurance company can agree on an amount for the damages
- Any state laws that set timelines for an insurance company to follow in the claims process