Top Tips for Filing An Insurance Claim Following A Home Disaster
Filing an insurance claim is one of the events that no homeowner ever wants to go through. Whether it's because of a wind storm that knocks over a tree, a house fire, or a similar disaster: nothing good ever leads to an insurance claim. Still, filing a claim with your insurance company can be productive and successful, if you know what to expect and how to navigate the process.
At Litchfield Builders, like other construction companies, we spend a lot of our time working with homeowners after a difficult event, when they're filing a claim, searching for a contractor and rebuilding their property. The more we do this, the easier it becomes - and the more advice we have to offer to homeowners who are going through this stressful process.
At this time of year, we see many homeowners filing insurance claims because of storms and high winds, damage from tree limbs and entire trees hitting homes. If you've just filed an insurance claim for your home repair in Connecticut, we know it can be difficult and that you've got a challenging road ahead of you. We're here to help.
Insurance Claim Process: What to Expect
Assuming no one is injured and you aren't at a hospital, one of the first things you should do after your home is significantly damaged is to contact your insurance agency to kick off the claims process. Your claims adjuster will ask you a variety of questions about the event.
They may ask how and when it started, whether the police were called, if you're currently occupying the house or evacuated from your home, where the damage is and similar questions. After you've provided some basic information about your claim, your insurance agent will ask you to fill out paperwork to estimate your damages.
The adjuster will inspect your home and draft an estimate of the potential cost to repair, then you'll be asked to contact contractors for bids. Once you sign with a contractor to get the work done, your insurance company may issue partial funds for the settlement up front, so you can pay your contractor for a portion of the work. More money may be paid as the job progresses, and then the final payment will be made when the job is finished.
Problems to Avoid
The insurance claim process is not perfect. Knowing what problems to anticipate can help you avoid issues or snags in the claims process that could lead to low quality repairs and a lot of personal frustration.
Problem 1: You Become the General Contractor
The instinct of the homeowner is to piecemeal their repairs, hiring drywallers to repair drywall, plumbers to repair plumbing, roofers to repair roofing. What homeowners often don't realize is that all the various systems of the house are interconnected, reliant upon one another, and cannot be brought back to working order in isolation.
The most efficient way to ensure that the work is done properly is to hire a general contractor who will either complete the work with trained employees, or hire experienced subcontractors as needed.
Insurance companies focus their attention on making repairs cheaply, and may balk at the total cost of a general contractor. Avoid piecemeal repairs. Hire a general who understands the relationship between all the systems of the house, and what must be done first, second and so on.
Think of it this way: if you needed surgery, you wouldn't hire your own anesthesiologist, your own nurse, your own medical team. You would turn to a surgeon with the expertise to coordinate the procedure from start to finish. This same concept applies to home repairs.
Problem 2: Your Insurance Company is Focused on Price Over Quality
As already stated, your insurance company may protect their own interests by encouraging homeowners to choose the expensive contractors. If you've read our blog, you probably already know that good quality is not always available at the lowest price. Hiring the best contractor is important for ensuring the work is done right.
Insurance companies can be persuaded to do what's right for your home repair. Persistence is key. Some suggestions:
- Always provide the paperwork and documentation your insurance company requests. Provide paperwork in a timely manner, with accurate justifications.
- Work with a contractor that has experience working with insurance companies, and can provide thorough documentation throughout the rebuilding process.
- Don't settle. Be patient. If you believe your insurance company is acting outside your best interests, take the problem up the chain, or contact Connecticut Insurance Department, where you can file a complaint, get answers to your questions or learn more about the claims process.
- Document all conversations with your insurance agent and contractor, to have that information available for follow up later. Have extensive conversations with your contractor to ensure that you understand what your contractor believes needs to be done, and why.
Filing an Insurance Claim? Making a Repair? Work With a Contractor Who Knows How It Works
Natural disasters and house fires can be stressful, frightening and unsettling for sure, but you don't have to navigate this process alone. Aligning yourself with a good remodel team can make all the difference.
For over 25 years, Litchfield Builders has been helping homeowners navigate successful home improvement projects and make repairs after a disaster. We can answer your questions, provide a thorough quote and follow up documentation required by your insurance company. To learn more about the home repair or remodeling process, download our free e-book, How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor.
About Kevin Ahern
Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.