Damage to your home can be expensive even if you have insurance. Further, there is no guarantee repairs will occur in a timely manner, or on an expected timeframe. In fact, most people find it takes at least 18–24 months to repair, rebuild, or replace their home and possessions after a major loss. There are things, however, that you can do in the meantime.
First, the more complete and accurate your records, the fairer and faster the reimbursement process can be. Start by preparing a detailed list of the contents of your home and keep it current. It is also important to keep receipts for items of value as well as model and serial numbers for all appliances, electronics and similar assets, as this can help establish their worth. Then, whether your home is damaged in a fire, hurricane, flood or other disaster, you can document the damage as soon as it is safe to return home and expedite your claim. Photographic or video evidence of damaged property in combination with detailed property and personal possession records can help to provide a solid basis for reimbursement.
After damage occurs, meet with your attorney. He or she may instruct you to go ahead and obtain a contractor’s estimate of what it will cost to repair your home. You may need to provide the contractor’s quote to your insurance adjuster so that it can be considered when preparing the insurance estimate.
If you have not yet met with an attorney, you may be interacting directly with the adjuster. In this instance, claims may be processed more quickly if you proactively supply the adjuster with a repair quote, and you and the adjuster come to an agreement on the “scope of damage.” Depending on the complexity of harm, a settlement can sometimes occur on the adjuster’s first visit. Even if a full settlement is not reached, however, with accurate records and a contractor’s quote the adjuster can provide an advance or partial payment to begin repairs.
Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to do the repairs yourself instead of waiting around for the normal process to unfold. This could save both time and money. Insurance companies are more likely to grant permission if the work requires unskilled labor, such as cleaning debris. Bear in mind that some work may require a permit or state-issued license, however, depending on the severity of the damage and where you live.
Be aware that the adjuster may not always agree with you on the scope of damage to your home. Before this happens, or at this time, it is critical not to take any more action until you meet with an experienced attorney who will be able to advise you of your rights. If you or someone you know has any questions about insurance companies and home repairs, we encourage you not to wait to contact an experienced local attorney. We are available 24 hours a day, and we encourage you to contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.