What you need to know when filing a homeowners claim

Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that pays for losses and damages to your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, weather, theft, or another covered disaster. When those events happen, you’ll need to file a claim.

What to consider

Know when to file a claim. Before reporting the property damage to your home, find out what your deductible is. If the damage is minor, you might decide you’re better off paying for the repairs out of pocket. If you believe the damage will cost more than your deductible to repair, or there is a lot of damage, you may want to file a claim.

If you decide to file a claim, it’s important to notify your insurance company right away. The amount of time you have to report your claim varies by state.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  • Make a list of all your damaged property. You’ll need this when you meet with your adjuster.
  • Take photos and videos of damage.
  • Contact your insurance company or agent with your policy number, name, address, and phone number.
  • You’ll need to explain what happened and describe the extent of the property damage.

Take an inventory of your belongings before disaster strikes

Take an inventory. Go through every room in your home; write down and take pictures or videos of everything in the room. Inventory everything, including valuable items such as antiques, electronics, jewelry, collectibles, and guns.

Do this before a disaster strikes. The NAIC’s free Home Inventory App will help you with the process. You can download it from the App Store and Google Play. It allows you to take pictures and document your items by room and category.

Free Home Inventory App from the NAIC

If you don’t use the app, store your inventory in a secure place at another location, such as your workplace, a safe deposit box, a relative’s house, or online.

  • Review and update your inventory annually, including your pictures/videos.
  • Update your inventory when you buy new items.
  • Keep receipts with your inventory for all repairs and new items you buy for proof if you have to file a claim.

Work from memory if your property was destroyed and you have no records.

  • Review photos (e.g., on your cell phone or from family or friends) taken inside your home. That may help you make the list.
  • Search online retailers to help estimate costs.

Know how to work with contractors. A contractor is someone you hire to manage the repair of your home. The contractor is responsible for supplying the necessary equipment, material, labor, and services to complete repairs. Don’t feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you aren’t comfortable with when it comes to repairs. It might help to have your contractor meet with you and the insurance adjuster.

Top takeaways

Maintain an inventory of your items. It will make filing a claim easier.

Save the information you’ll need to file a claim. Knowing how to get in touch with your insurer or agent will help move the process along.

Know your deductible. If you have questions about your deductible or other things related to filing a claim, contact your agent or insurance company.

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WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler regulates the insurance industry and protects insurance consumers.