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InsuranceAfter an Accident Insurance ClaimsMake the insurance claims process easier by following these steps.Am I Covered? Car Insurance QuestionsAsk your insurance agent these questions. It helps to understand the types and extent of coverage you have. There are a lot, but you're paying a lot.Appealing an Insurance SettlementIf you have a difference of opinion on your insurance settlement, you can begin an appeal process, starting with your agent, moving to the claims adjuster at your insurance company, or your state's watchdog agency for insurance consumers. What's Your Insurance Score?Like a credit score used by banks, insurance scores rate your risk (how financially stable you are). Research has shown that people who are in better shape credit-wise tend to file less insurance claims. Working With a Claims AdjusterOnce you have notified your insurance company of your loss, you will meet with a claims or field adjuster employed by the company. If You Have No InsuranceIf you have no insurance (or less insurance coverage than you thought), your recovery will be based on your own resources and help from friends, relatives and your community. Estimating Your Home's ValueDo you have enough insurance on your home to rebuild it if it is destroyed? Do you even know how to calculate the amount of insurance you need? Key Insurance Terms Determining ValueKnowing these terms helps to understand the process insurance agencies and relief organizations use to determine the value of your loss. Your tax accountant can also help you when claiming your losses. Top Homeowners Insurance MythsHomeowner's insurance can be a bit complicated. William S. Coffman, Jr., WHN's Guest Columnist, provides some common myths about insurance and insights into the realities of insurance and the claims process.Property Damage Questions for Your AgentThese are some questions to ask your insurance agent. These may confirm what you already know or may help you understand the extent and specifics of your coverage.Insurance Riders Do I Need One?You pay your homeowners premiums on time and feel reasonably comfortable that you are well covered should disaster ever strike, right? Wrong. Even if you think you have adequate coverage, you could be drastically underinsured.Life Insurance and Healthcare CostsIf you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may have already discovered that dealing with actual health issues is just part of the individual puzzle you must reassess and reassemble. Am I Covered? Home Insurance QuestionsThe more you know and understand about home insurance, the better you can insure yourself and your family in case of loss. Am I Covered? Life Insurance QuestionsHere is a 'starter' list of things to consider and questions to ask your agent. You'll probably come up with questions or ideas that best fit your needs. Choosing a Life Insurance BeneficiaryIf you own assets, from bank accounts to life insurance, it's important that you choose a beneficiary. Filing an Insurance ClaimA few tips on how to file a claim after a natural disaster, fire or theft. Motorcycle InsuranceThe more you know and understand about motorcycle insurance, accident coverage, and your own policy, the better off you are. Pet InsurancePet insurance is similar to health insurance: you may be reimbursed if the unexpected occurs. Property Damage What to Expect from Your AgentHere is a list of actions an insurance agent may follow after a claim. If you receive money from your agent or arrangements are being made for you, be sure to ask your agent what is covered under your policy and how much you are covered for. Reviewing and Updating Your Homeowner's InsuranceWhen was the last time you reviewed your home insurance policy? According to Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, there are six events that should trigger a review.Flood InsuranceOne of the most important things that you can do to protect your home and family before a flood is to purchase a flood insurance policy - even if you don't live in a flood-prone area. Earthquake Insurance ResourcesUseful links to information about disaster-related insurance resources.

Filing an Insurance Claim

A few tips on how to file a claim after a natural disaster, fire or theft.

Read your insurance policy if you have it. If not, ask your insurance agent to send or bring a copy for you. Check your policy for specifics and document every action you take.

Keep Two Files

Track everything related to the claim in one of two files or notebooks: Admin or Expenses. Be sure to document dates and times for all entries.

  • "Admin" file: For phone calls, notes and everything relating to the storm, fire or theft.
  • "Expenses" file: To track all expenses — large and small. Note on each receipt what was purchased. You may be reimbursed under your policy or be able to claim them on your income tax return.

Expenses could include

  • Building contractors
  • Cell phone, pager or other method of communication
  • Child care or other care providers
  • Cleaning services (clothes and house)
  • Clothing, personal items (medications, toiletries)
  • Food (purchased from store and from restaurant)
  • Hotels or other temporary living expenses
  • Mailbox rental (if mail needs to be redirected or forwarded)
  • Pet supplies, boarding costs or pet care providers (for onsite care)
  • Security services (to prevent looting)
  • Storage rental unit for possessions or vehicles
  • Temporary business relocation costs (if business was home-based) including answering service and other expenses

WHN Tip: If you are using a credit card, designate only one card for post- event expenses, stapling all receipts to your monthly credit card statement for backup.

Contact your insurance agent or local company representative, or ask a friend or family member to do so, as soon as possible, even if you aren't at home.

WHN Tip: What's the Number?
Don't have your insurance agency's number? Call toll-free directory assistance at (800) 555-1212 or (877) 999-6442 for the toll-free number to your insurance company.

You'll need:

  • Insurance agency name
  • Agent name
  • E-mail
  • Phones (office and cell)
  • Your Policy Number
  • Additional tracking numbers

Document each conversation in your Admin notebook and include the following:

  • Date and time of phone call/meeting
  • Name of person you spoke with
  • Items and tasks discussed
  • Next steps for each item and task, deadline for completion and who is responsible for what.
  • Forms or documents needed to support your claim. This could include a proof-of-loss form, as well as documents relating to your claim, such as medical and home-repair bills, bids and receipts. Often, they will ask for photos that show what was in your house before the damage.

WHN Tip: Request Photos
If you don't have any photos, remember, relatives and friends may have photos from holidays, birthdays, dinners and other events you hosted in your home. You'll see your home and belongings in the background!

  • Specific information (if any) needed from the police or fire departments to process your claim.
  • What expenses, if any, will be deducted from your total insurance claim amount (i.e. temporary housing, transportation, and living expenses may be subtracted from the final claim amount to be received).
  • Arrangements for insurance company's damage assessment
    Name of insurance representative who will come to you:
    Representative's contact number (office and cell)
    Date/time of visit

WHN Tip: Always Ask
Read our article called Property Damage; Questions for Your Agent  for information about claim adjusters, filing claims, statement of loss, etc.

Be sure you keep copies of what you are sending to the insurance company — don't give away your last copy!

WHN Tip: Some losses may be tax-deductible. Keep receipts of what you spend for repairs or replacements, as well as those for living expenses, to help calculate your return. Contact your local IRS office for publication 547 (Tax Information on Disasters, Casualty Losses and Thefts). By filing Form 1045, (Application for Tentative Refund), you may be able to receive a quick refund.

WHN Tip: Options!
You do not have to file a claim or take a claim check right away. Consider other options such as hiring an independent adjuster who can act as an intermediary between you and the insurance company. Remember, it's up to you to decide when or when not to file your insurance claim. Read our article Working with a Claims Adjuster.

InsuranceAfter an Accident Insurance ClaimsMake the insurance claims process easier by following these steps.Am I Covered? Car Insurance QuestionsAsk your insurance agent these questions. It helps to understand the types and extent of coverage you have. There are a lot, but you're paying a lot.Appealing an Insurance SettlementIf you have a difference of opinion on your insurance settlement, you can begin an appeal process, starting with your agent, moving to the claims adjuster at your insurance company, or your state's watchdog agency for insurance consumers. What's Your Insurance Score?Like a credit score used by banks, insurance scores rate your risk (how financially stable you are). Research has shown that people who are in better shape credit-wise tend to file less insurance claims. Working With a Claims AdjusterOnce you have notified your insurance company of your loss, you will meet with a claims or field adjuster employed by the company. If You Have No InsuranceIf you have no insurance (or less insurance coverage than you thought), your recovery will be based on your own resources and help from friends, relatives and your community. Estimating Your Home's ValueDo you have enough insurance on your home to rebuild it if it is destroyed? Do you even know how to calculate the amount of insurance you need? Key Insurance Terms Determining ValueKnowing these terms helps to understand the process insurance agencies and relief organizations use to determine the value of your loss. Your tax accountant can also help you when claiming your losses. Top Homeowners Insurance MythsHomeowner's insurance can be a bit complicated. William S. Coffman, Jr., WHN's Guest Columnist, provides some common myths about insurance and insights into the realities of insurance and the claims process.Property Damage Questions for Your AgentThese are some questions to ask your insurance agent. These may confirm what you already know or may help you understand the extent and specifics of your coverage.Insurance Riders Do I Need One?You pay your homeowners premiums on time and feel reasonably comfortable that you are well covered should disaster ever strike, right? Wrong. Even if you think you have adequate coverage, you could be drastically underinsured.Life Insurance and Healthcare CostsIf you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may have already discovered that dealing with actual health issues is just part of the individual puzzle you must reassess and reassemble. Am I Covered? Home Insurance QuestionsThe more you know and understand about home insurance, the better you can insure yourself and your family in case of loss. Am I Covered? Life Insurance QuestionsHere is a 'starter' list of things to consider and questions to ask your agent. You'll probably come up with questions or ideas that best fit your needs. Choosing a Life Insurance BeneficiaryIf you own assets, from bank accounts to life insurance, it's important that you choose a beneficiary. Filing an Insurance ClaimA few tips on how to file a claim after a natural disaster, fire or theft. Motorcycle InsuranceThe more you know and understand about motorcycle insurance, accident coverage, and your own policy, the better off you are. Pet InsurancePet insurance is similar to health insurance: you may be reimbursed if the unexpected occurs. Property Damage What to Expect from Your AgentHere is a list of actions an insurance agent may follow after a claim. If you receive money from your agent or arrangements are being made for you, be sure to ask your agent what is covered under your policy and how much you are covered for. Reviewing and Updating Your Homeowner's InsuranceWhen was the last time you reviewed your home insurance policy? According to Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, there are six events that should trigger a review.Flood InsuranceOne of the most important things that you can do to protect your home and family before a flood is to purchase a flood insurance policy - even if you don't live in a flood-prone area. Earthquake Insurance ResourcesUseful links to information about disaster-related insurance resources.