In the event you need to file a renters insurance claim for damaged or stolen property, you’ll want to receive compensation for your loss as soon as possible. Understanding the basics of the claims process will save you a lot of time and hassle, and it’s helpful even if you don’t need to file a claim right now. Filing a renters insurance claim is similar to filing most other types of insurance claims, and if you don’t follow the filing process correctly, you may be at risk of having your claim denied or getting less than you corresponds to you.
These are the basic steps necessary to file a claim under renters insurance for property loss or damage.
report damage or loss to your landlord
Your landlord must be notified immediately of any damage or loss. Not only is this reporting required in most states and a typical rental requirement, but your landlord may also be responsible for repairing broken doors and windows or any other damage to the unit. If your home has been broken into, your landlord can also alert your neighbors to the incident.
report damage or loss to the police
In case of theft, vandalism and/or robbery, you should contact the police as soon as possible. In fact, reporting a burglary or burglary is usually required to file a renters insurance claim, assuming your policy covers theft losses. Furthermore, a police report will not only establish additional evidence to show the renters insurance company, but it can also help the claims process go smoothly. be sure to get the names of any police officers you speak with in case your insurance company has any further questions.
Keep in mind, however, that damage caused by a pet or a leaky roof, assuming your renters insurance covers this type of damage, usually does not warrant a police report. use your best judgment when deciding on a police report.
protect your home and belongings
Before you begin the claim process, make sure the rest of your belongings and your home are safe. Board up broken windows, if necessary, and make any other necessary repairs, like changing door locks, to ensure you’re as protected as possible. be sure to keep all receipts for maintenance and repair.
If you can’t fix broken locks or windows right away, or if you have security issues, make temporary living arrangements, but be sure to keep track of all expenses. Some renters insurance companies will cover temporary living expenses while your home is being repaired. check your policy to see if you have coverage for this situation, which is commonly referred to as “loss of use.”
contact your renters insurance company
In addition to contacting your landlord, calling the police (if applicable), and protecting your property, one of the first things you should do is contact your renters insurance company immediately after the damage or loss. of the property. For one thing, you’ll want to know if your loss is covered. Also, almost all insurance companies have a deadline to file a claim, which is usually 48 to 72 hours after the damage or loss occurred. ask your agent exactly how long you have to file your claim so there are no surprises.
To make the process easier, make sure you have the following items on hand before you call:
- your policy number
- details about the damage, including when and what time it occurred, and
- a phone number where you can be easily reached
Even if you haven’t documented all of your losses, it’s imperative that you contact your insurance company and provide them with an estimate of what you think needs to be replaced. Again, most insurance companies have strict time requirements after property damage, and the sooner you contact your company, the better.
document your losses
When you start documenting your property, be sure to videotape or take pictures of anything damaged. For example, if your items were damaged due to fire, be as detailed as possible, noting each and every item. Also, don’t throw away any of your damaged items until a claims adjuster has inspected your property. If a claims adjuster is not necessary, such as with lower value items, your insurance company will let you know. Until then, pack up all your belongings and be sure to use your personal inventory sheet (assuming you’ve made one). A pre-prepared inventory is highly recommended and will make the process much easier if your property was stolen.
A detailed written home inventory is useful for several reasons. First, writing a list of your damaged or lost belongings will help you file a faster and more complete claim, especially if it includes photos or videos. Second, your insurer will be in a better position to determine the replacement cost of your damaged or lost items. this allows your insurer to settle a claim faster.
complete a claim form
Once you have documented all of your losses, you will need to complete a claim form. A claims agent will usually call you shortly after you’ve contacted the renters insurance company. Again, documenting every detail on your claim form is also imperative. For higher value items, a claims adjuster may come to your home for an inspection, as mentioned above. Make sure you have all documentation, expenses, receipts and, if applicable, a police report available.
Once you have submitted your claim, your renters insurance company will begin the investigation process. the amount of time for your claim to be heard will vary depending on the extent of your damages or losses. some claims may take only a few hours, while others may take longer. In most cases, your insurance company will give you an average estimated time.
update your personal property inventory (or complete one for the first time)
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If you already have a personal property inventory list, it’s a good idea to keep it up to date. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to create a home inventory and a list of all your belongings. Be sure to be as detailed as possible, including model numbers, makes, and serial numbers, if applicable.
understand why renters insurance claims can be denied
Please note that insurance companies thoroughly investigate all claims and in most cases, as long as you follow the steps listed above, your claim will be approved. however, there are a few reasons claims are denied.
damage costs are less than the deductible
If the cost of your damages falls below your deductible amount, your claim will be denied. For example, if you have $500 in damage or loss, but your deductible is $1,000, then the claim is meaningless. however, if you have more damage or loss later in the same year, this amount can be applied to the $500 of your previous damage or loss.
disasters and losses discovered
There are certain disasters that your policy will not cover unless you opt for additional coverage. For example, if you don’t have flood coverage and your items were damaged after a flood, you won’t be able to make a successful claim. this can also apply to hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Also, if you run a business from home, your office products may not be covered by your policy unless you’ve added additional protection before damage or loss occurs. In other words, if your fax machine or other equipment used for business is damaged or stolen, it may not be accepted on your claim if you don’t have additional business property coverage.
the damage was intentional
Although rare, in some cases people plan damage to replace their belongings. in other cases, intentional antics resulted in property damage. Renters insurance companies are extremely thorough when investigating claims, and if the damage was neither accidental nor intentional, the claim is generally not accepted.
the owner is responsible for the loss
In cases where the owner is responsible for damages and losses, your claim may be denied. For example, if your landlord failed to fix faulty wiring that caused a fire that damaged your sofa, then your landlord may be liable for damages.
additional resources on renters insurance claims
Your own insurance company’s website will give you details about the claims process. Also, check out the United Policyholders website for resources on the renters insurance claims process, including state-specific insurance resources.