What Not To Do When Filing A Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim
If your home is damaged by any type of event – storms, fire, flood, theft, vandalism, etc. – it is an extremely stressful situation and you will have a lot running through your mind. Despite the confusion that can seem overwhelming, it is important to stay focused on the next steps. These include some useful “dos and don’ts” in filing a homeowners insurance claim.
The first steps that a property owner should do will usually include:
- File a report with local law enforcement. Having a police report documenting damage right after it occurs can be useful later on during the insurance claims process. This is particularly true when the claim involves theft, vandalism, arson, or some other type of criminal conduct.
- Notify your insurance company. Your insurance policy will usually set a time frame to report an incident, but the sooner you do this, the better. Providing as much information as possible at the outset of a claim can help both you and the insurer in resolving the issues.
- Document the damage. Take photos and videos, and itemize losses of personal property and any fixtures, appliances, etc. (If you have an inventory of property from before the incident, and pre-incident photos, that will help as well.)
- Make any urgent and time-sensitive repairs to limit damage. In general, you want to wait for the insurance company to review and pay for any required repairs. Some repairs can’t wait for the process to unfold, however. Broken windows, flooded floors, and damaged roofs need prompt attention to prevent further damage. Your policy usually requires these repairs to be made as soon as possible, and they may refuse to pay out for damage they claim was due to a homeowner’s failure to limit damage. If you had to hire someone to make these repairs for you, be sure to submit copies of their costs to the insurer.
What NOT to Do When Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim:
- Don’t ignore deadlines or fail to review the terms of your policy after an incident. Your policy will set out important deadlines and requirements to process the claim on their end. Some of these involve timeframes for reporting losses, certain paperwork that must be filed, and other actions to be taken. Missing or neglecting one of these steps can give your insurer grounds to reduce or even deny your claim.
- Don’t delay filing your claim. Damage does not improve with time, and delays do nothing to help a homeowner receive a better payout on an insurance claim. A common homeowners insurance mistake is to wait days or weeks until the homeowner knows the full scope of the damage involved, but this is not necessary. It is better to file the claim as soon as possible and add to the damage estimate while the claims process unfolds. The worst thing you can do is lead an insurer to believe you are playing games or being untruthful – delays in reporting or omissions of facts can create new headaches in addition to the damage that already happened.
- Don’t throw away debris from the incident. After some events – especially flooding or fires – home materials and personal property can be left unrecognizable and begging to be discarded. However, homeowners need to document this damage through photos or video, then maintain the property in a safe location until a claims adjuster can review it. If an item may accumulate mold that can spread through the home, move it to a different location where it will keep the rest of your home safe.
- Don’t accept an insurer’s first settlement offer. Even if you are anxious to have the process done with and receive any kind of payment for the damage, accepting an initial offer can cost you thousands and prevent you from receiving the full coverage you deserve under your policy.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Tackling a homeowners insurance claim on your own is not only difficult, but stressful. Suffering damage to your home is an emotional process as it is, before adding in the administrative headaches you may deal with. Don’t fight the battle all alone – consult a Daytona area property damage attorney that knows how to get the most from insurance companies on these claims.
Our Daytona, Florida Property Damage Attorneys Can Walk You Through All Steps of an Insurance Claim
The Daytona property damage insurance attorneys at Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., know the homeowners insurance process well, from helping many others in your situation. Most importantly, we can protect and advocate for your rights if the insurer fights back – even taking cases to court if necessary. To learn more about how our legal team can help, call our Daytona law offices today at 386-252-5170, or schedule a consultation with our Daytona Beach property damage attorneys online.