How to File Insurance Claims

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For years, you've been paying your premiums on time, feeding money into a system with which you've rarely had to deal. But suddenly, you've had an accident--maybe a car wreck or tornado damage to your home--and it's time to file an insurance claim. Dealing with insurers can be frustrating and confusing: Your insurer won't be as ready to shell out some of the money you've been paying for so long. Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself for dealing with your insurance company and make the process of filing a claim as painless as possible.

Know what your policy includes. The policy between you and your insurer is essentially a contract. You should be aware of the deductibles and specifically what is covered by the policy (and what isn't). You will need to have a clear understanding of your policy in order to make a proper, all-encompassing claim.

File your claim as quickly as possible. Your insurer provides you with forms to fill out in the event of an accident. Many insurers require a claim to be filed within 30 days, but the sooner you get it in, the better off your claim will be.

Make sure everything on your claim is correct. Any inaccuracies can cause problems with your claim. Depending on your insurer and the severity of the inaccuracy, your claim could get delayed or even denied.

Document all the damage you can. It's better when you have pictures of your property before any damage with which to compare. Insurers will try to get out of paying for damage that can't be verified. Get a copy of the police report, if one is available. You need to collect all the possible evidence you can.

Get a repair estimate from a reputable company. Having an estimate might help expedite your claim's approval.

Designate any temporary repairs a necessity. Your insurer should cover any repairs needed to protect your property from further damage.

Contact your state's insurance office if you are concerned about the time being taken to approve your claim or feel your insurer is handling the claim inappropriately.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stay calm when dealing with your insurer. Avoid threatening with a lawyer. It makes insurers apprehensive. Save hiring a lawyer for a last resort. Once you hire a lawyer, only they will be able to communicate with your insurer regarding the claim.

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