If something happened to your home, would you know what to do? Here are three key steps to ensure your claims process is hassle-free!
Step 1 — Call your damage insurance broker
When you arrive home from a relaxing trip down south, you discover water damage in your basement. Your first instinct is to call your insurance broker (and shed a few tears!). After reassuring you, your broker will advise you to:
- Limit the damage by making sure the cause of the loss is under control. With water damage, for example, you’ll need to shut off your water or dry the floors to prevent mould growth. You may also choose to hire a water damage restoration company.
- Protect undamaged items. For example, to limit the damage, remove hardwood furniture, storage containers and other materials that are more resistant to water. Simply drying them out can prevent them from swelling and having to be replaced.
- Take pictures of the condition of your home when you discover the loss. These will be very useful when you file a claim, since you will have all the details you need to accurately describe the situation at the ready. These pictures will also help the claims adjuster determine what caused the loss.
- Make a list of damaged items. Use pictures to help!
- Don’t proceed with any repairs other than emergency repairs (drying, pumping, etc.). Your insurer must be able to see and measure the extent of the damage. For this reason, to avoid future issues with your claim, you should not begin repairs before the claims adjuster or insurer’s appraiser has visited your home.
Step 2 — Talk to your claims adjuster
After talking to your damage insurance broker, you will be transferred to a claims adjuster to open a claims file. Their role is to:
- Identify the cause of the loss.
- Appoint a building appraiser and/or contents estimator to estimate the damage and determine a settlement amount.
- Check whether you have the right insurance coverage for the claim to be admissible.
- Help you navigate the entire claims process in collaboration with your insurance broker.
If needed, your claims adjuster will refer you to a disaster relief company for immediate assistance with any emergency work. Tip: when a claims adjuster or disaster relief representative visits your home, make sure to be there so you can ensure that the work meets your expectations.
At this stage:
- Your insurance broker has been notified and has reassured you.
- You’ve opened a claims file with your insurer.
- The claims adjuster has confirmed that you have the right coverage.
Can you proceed with repair work? Yes, as long as the cause of the loss has been identified and repaired. Ideally, you and your insurer should also have agreed on the cost of the work. Please note that as per the terms and conditions of your insurance policy, the cause of loss itself is not covered; only the resulting damage is covered by the policy.
Step 3 — Begin repairs
When it’s finally time to begin repairs, you are free to choose your preferred contractor. You also have the option of doing the work yourself, but you will need to notify your claims adjuster. This is because the terms and conditions may differ and the work will not be guaranteed.
If you decide not to repair or replace a damaged item, you will be paid its actual cash value rather than its replacement value (if this coverage is included in your policy, of course).
Remember that a deductible generally applies to all types of home insurance claims. Talk to your broker if you have an endorsement that waives the deductible. The deductible will be deducted from the compensation amount.
Finally, rest assured that you’re in good hands when you work with an insurance broker, especially one here at Lareau. Lareau is one of the few independent brokerage firms with a team of claims adjusters whose main role is to support you in the event of a claim. Don’t hesitate to contact them throughout the claims process, since they are the intermediary between you and the insurer. They will be able to put your mind at ease!