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A guide to filing home insurance claims

April 14, 2015

The purpose of having a homeowners insurance policy is to be financially protected when damages occur to your home. When disaster strikes, you'll need to file a claim with your insurance company so you can access the money that's intended to cover repairs. Here's a quick guide to filing a home insurance claim:

Here's what you need to know about filing a home insurance claim.

When to file a claim

With any insurance policy, you'll want to make sure the damage is actually worth filing a claim. Filing several claims in a close time frame can cause your insurance premium to go up, and some insurance companies might even cancel your policy. Therefore, you'll want to be aware of how many claims you're filing, and whether or not it will be cost effective.

Essentially, you want to file a claim when the damages cost a significant amount more than the deductible, J.D. Howard, executive director of Insurance Consumer Advocate Network, told CBS.

“We always counsel people not to make a claim unless the cost of the repair is three times their deductible" said Howard.

How to file a claim

Damages that are covered under homeowners insurance include fires, natural disasters, home invasions and some liability issues, among other perils. You'll want to have all evidence of damage documented and ready for your insurance company to review. For example, in the case of a theft be sure to have a police report of the incident. Once you have this information, contact your insurance agent. There will be a time limit on how long you can wait to file a claim after the incident, so revisit your policy to find out exactly what that time frame is.

Note, though, that insurance companies always document your call in the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange database, even if you're just considering filing a claim. Most insurance companies have access to this database, meaning multiple companies can know about your past insurance behavior and could base your rates off of it.

What happens next?

The insurance company will send out an adjuster to evaluate the cost of damages. You'll need to show them evidence of the damages, whether that's the police report, pictures or the physical condition of your home. Additionally, if you have to make repairs before the insurance adjuster can come to you, be sure to keep track of your expenses. As long as you've been up to date with premium payments and keep your house in a safe condition, your insurance company should approve your claim.