It’s very common to deal with a homeowners’ insurance adjuster after your home suffers damage. If you’ve never had to file a claim with an insurance company before, speaking with an adjuster can be a bit intimidating.
However, with our tips, you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to effectively deal with your claim.
#1 - Be polite and remain professional.
You may be frustrated with the situation that caused damage to your home, but it’s important to be as courteous and respectful to the insurance adjuster as possible. After all, would you want to help someone who was rude and nasty to you? Probably not.
#2 - Ask for the adjuster’s contact information.
You’ll want to know who is handling your claim. Be sure to ask for your claim number, the adjuster’s name, telephone number, address, fax number, and email address.
#3 - Be sure to properly compile a list of damaged/destroyed items. Here’s how.
When you have items that are damaged or destroyed under a valid homeowners claim, it is often difficult to start the process of determining what items are damaged versus destroyed.
A good tip is to periodically take pictures of the more valuable items in your room to help refresh your memory at a time of loss. You can email these pictures and save them in a folder in your email account for use in the event you have to make a homeowners claim in the future. Spending 1-2 minutes to take these pictures can save you considerable time during the stressful period of dealing with your claim.
Additionally, as more homeowners purchase many of these items online, a review of your email receipts for purchases, and a review of your Amazon purchase history will be helpful for establishing the specific items that are subject to your loss. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you will often have the exact brands and models in your Amazon account, and in your purchase confirmations, online receipts, and emails. Likewise, a review of the pictures you have of your expensive items will help refresh your memory of items you may have initially omitted.
When making your list of items, it is important to be as specific as possible. For instance, if you indicate that a 55-inch LCD TV was destroyed, an insurance adjuster may calculate the value of this item by utilizing the lowest-priced 55-inch LCD TV item of that category. For example, the difference in value between a low-end budget model Westinghouse LCD priced at $400.00 from Walmart may be much less than the model-specific 55-inch Sony Master Series OLED 4K Smart TV you purchased from Best Buy at a cost of $2,300.00.
Providing the specific model number, manufacturer, and place of purchase will help you establish the more appropriate value for your item, and decrease the chances that low-end budget items are utilized to establish your damaged item’s value. This example can be followed for nearly all damaged items, such as electronics, kitchen appliances, work clothing such as suits and formalwear, dress shoes and work boots, rugs, bedroom items, etc.
#4 - Document all damaged items in writing, and minimize speaking with the claims adjuster in detail by telephone unless absolutely necessary. Instead, utilize written forms of communication such as emails, letters, and faxes to document your conversations/requests in writing.
It’s in your best interest to document all damaged or destroyed items in writing and to confirm conversations with the adjuster through follow-up letters or emails. Additionally, it is in your best interest to have your attorney present with you if asked to provide any recorded statement, especially an Examination Under Oath. That way, your attorney can be present and guide you to help you provide the best information possible.
#5 - Do not agree to provide an Examination Under Oath without first speaking with an attorney.
It’s in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss an insurance company’s request to provide an Examination Under Oath before agreeing to such an examination/statement. You will want to have your attorney present during this examination to protect your interests.
#6 - Do not sign anything without speaking with your attorney first.
Many times, insurance companies will ask claimants to sign forms they are not legally required to sign. The reason for this is to give the insurance company more power over your claim. Be sure to go over all documentation requiring signatures with your attorney before signing on the dotted lines. The last thing you want to do is give up your power needlessly.
If you need help with your homeowners’ insurance claim, contact the skilled attorneys at Berthold Law Firm, PLLC with the details of your case by calling (304) 605-2040 or by filling out our online contact form.