As if losing your property in the recent wildfires wasn’t enough, now you must file an insurance claim to recoup your damages. Filing an insurance claim may not be as harrowing as surviving a wildfire, but it is a tedious and often frustrating process that policyholders rarely enjoy. To make matters even more difficult, insurance companies do not always pay their clients a fair settlement.
Many consumers expect their insurance providers to come through and cover the full extent of wildfire-related damages, but this isn’t always the case. When you are filing your insurance claim, you should be aware that your insurance company may be looking for ways to reduce the payment they owe you. These are a few tips that you can use to help ensure that you get a fair insurance settlement.
- Get a copy of your residential insurance policy if you do not already have one. Your insurance company is required to provide one of these for free within one month of your request. Review your policy carefully, and ask your agent to answer any questions that you have.
- Keep extensive documentation of the entire process, from the first time you contact your insurance provider to when you finally receive your payment. You should keep track of everything from your damaged possessions to your conversations with your adjuster to the cost of your meals. It is much more difficult for an insurance company to low-ball or deny a claim when it is backed by meticulous records.
- Keep your options open when it comes to hiring a contractor. Your insurance company may offer its own contractor, but you do not necessarily have to hire him. Have at least one licensed contractor provide an estimate so that you have a sense of the cost compared to your coverage limits. It is wise to have multiple contractors provide their bids.
- Consider consulting an attorney who specializes in insurance defense. An attorney may be able to help your claim move along more quickly and smoothly than if you were to do it yourself. Having an attorney in your corner can also help you achieve a fair settlement with your insurance company.