Here at vipHomeLink, we’re always looking for ways to simplify your homeownership experience. As one in 20 homes typically has an insurance claim annually, we decided it was best to break down the homeowners insurance claims process, so you’re prepared in the event you need to submit one.
We spoke with Denise Click, Personal Lines Manager from LD&B Insurance and Financial Services, who answers your FAQs about insurance claims and offers some quick tips to make the process as seamless as possible.
How should I submit a homeowners insurance claim?
“Each company has its own process for claims,” says Denise. “Since we are an independent agency, we prefer our clients report their claim directly to us.”
This is because independent agents have a relationship with policyholders and can help to facilitate the claims process. However, there are other ways to submit a claim, such as:
- Contacting the agent or carrier directly by phone or email.
- Completing a form on the carrier’s website.
- On a mobile app, if available.
Says Denise, “Many companies also have a mobile app where a claim can be submitted right from their cell phone, and we’re finding that’s becoming more and more popular.”
How long does an insurance claim take?
The homeowners insurance claim time frame is quick in today’s digital age.
“Once the claim has been submitted, it typically takes about 24 hours for a claims adjuster to be assigned to the claim,” says Denise.
Then the adjuster will contact the insured and walk them through the entire claims process. This includes assessing and inspecting the damage to personal property and the dwelling.
Adds Denise, “From the time the claim is submitted to the time the claim is closed, which is payment has been issued, most claims take about a week.”
Some claims can be handled in as little as three days, though larger claims with major water or fire damage, can take longer.
“We’ve seen those take three months or even six months if we’re rebuilding a house,” says Denise, “but the adjuster is working directly with the insured through every step.”
Documentation is key
Before any repairs can be done, it’s a good idea for a policyholder to take photos of the damage.
“If it’s a smaller claim where the house is still habitable, policyholders can take pictures and then start the repairs themselves,” says Denise.
Homeowners should also take steps to mitigate further loss.
“If a pipe burst while then the homeowner is home, the policyholder can go ahead and turn off the water and then get a contractor in to begin that process,” says Denise. “The key really is taking pictures and documenting what the damage was before you start the repair.”
In Virginia where LD&B is located, lightning strikes are a common claim and fry appliances and televisions.
“Keeping receipts for appliances is important,” add Denise. “Using an app like vipHomeLink and keeping all the records of your larger purchases really does help when it comes to claim time.”
When is the best time to submit a claim?
When it comes to small claims, it’s best to file when you notice the damage. For bigger claims, policyholders can report the claim at any time, but they’ll need to be able to provide the details. That might be difficult in the middle of a hurricane.
“There likely could be further damage,” notes Denise, “but either way, the claims adjusters who work directly for the company are on call 24/7. They’re taking calls in the middle of the night when things happen.”
Will my homeowners insurance go up after a claim?
Each insurance carrier is different; however, the carriers look at the severity and frequency of the claim, the types of claims, and how much they have paid out before deciding on a rate increase.
“If a homeowner has one claim in three years, they’re typically not going to see an increase on their homeowners policy at renewal,” says Denise.
However, if a homeowner has three years where they submitted a claim each year, a homeowner might see an increase in their home insurance rates.
“That’s when they will adjust the premium increase, to be able to afford to pay those claims,” says Denise.
Can I be dropped by an insurance carrier?
Similar to rate increases, insurance carriers look at claim frequency and severity when deciding to not renew a policyholder’s insurance policy.
“We don’t like to see non-renewals,” says Denise, “but being an independent agent allows us to work with multiple carriers. If one is non-renewing, we’re going to look for one of our other companies in-house to keep them.”
There’s only a certain time LD&B would issue a non-renewal with a policyholder.
“As an insurance agent, we have only tried to part ways with someone who has been fraudulent when submitting claims,” says Denise. “We’ve had some local cases where individuals have submitted claims for large pieces of jewelry that have gone missing. The insurance company will pay the claim. Then a year or two later, they try to submit the claim again, and they never actually replaced the item.”
Can my homeowners insurance claim be denied, and how do I prevent that?
Claims get denied frequently, and many times, it’s due to lack of coverage on a policy.
“Typically, if water loss has happened over a period of time and mold has developed within a home – mold is not covered on a homeowner’s policy,” says Denise.
While you may not be able to stop a violent wind gust from hitting your home, you should complete proper home maintenance, which can lower your risk of a claim.
“Homeownership is not easy,” says Denise, “and there are so many things that could happen.”
LD&B tries to help educate policyholders and offers the following quick tips to prevent the most frequent insurance claims.
Gutters and downspouts
“Say you didn’t clean your gutters out and you have little walnut trees growing out of your gutters,” says Denise. “That causes your gutters to back up into your home causing water damage. That could be denied because you as the homeowner have a responsibility to maintain your property.”
When it comes to fire safety, homeowners should maintain their smoke detectors.
“If a smoke detector goes off and the fire company can react to that, the claim would not be as severe as it possibly could have been,” says Denise.
Chimneys and dryer vents
If your home has a fireplace or wood-burning stove, homeowners should clean it at least once annually. However, there’s another fire hazard that most likely requires attention, too.
“Most people don’t even really think about the dryer vent, the vent that goes from the machine to outside,” says Denise. “It’s important to clean all the lint out at least once a year.”
Stay on top of home maintenance
As Denise said, homeownership is not easy. Knowing what to do and when to do it around the home can be a homeowner’s biggest challenge. That’s where vipHomeLink can help. Our home management app helps you stay on top of home maintenance with personalized reminders and tailored recommendations.
Our vipTIPs give you expert advice at your fingertips, and the journal feature gives you a place to hold your home inventory, receipts, and documents.
Give your house a home with vipHomeLink. Download the app today!