Filing property damage claims is a complex process that often results in the property owner being shortchanged. First and foremost, insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They are not in the business for fun; they're in the business to make money. Insurance companies have two ways to make money: collecting premiums and minimizing payouts.
It does not matter if you have a homeowners insurance claim or a commercial property insurance claim, the process is the same. You pay premiums to the insurance company for coverage. If you suffer a covered loss, you file a claim and the insurance company pays you a settlement, less any applicable deductible. However, this settlement may not be enough to fully refund you for your losses.
In order to boost your insurance payout, you must not sit back and let the insurance adjuster tell you what they will pay. Instead, you need to take an active role or hire someone to act on your behalf. Remember that the insurance adjuster, no matter how nice he is, serves the insurance company whose goal is to make a profit by minimizing losses – including YOUR losses.
On the other hand, a public insurance adjuster is one that you can hire to represent you. These adjusters document everything and negotiate higher payouts directly with your insurance company. They are licensed and are often formerly insurance industry employees who know how the insurance claim game is played. They can counter any tactics the insurance company throws your way and aggressively pursue maximum settlement offers. These professionals earn a percentage of the payout, so it's in their best interest to maximize it.
If you want to boost your property damage payout on your own, find a reputable contractor who will be doing the repairs and ask the contractor to be present during the insurance adjuster's visit. The contractor will have the expertise to point out all structural and cosmetic damage – damage that the insurance adjuster may have overlooked on his own. In addition, the contractor will ensure that estimates reflect actual rebuilding and material costs. The insurance adjuster relations on books and software for making estimates while a real contractor has working knowledge of real world costs.
One of the most important tasks when boosting an insurance payout takes a bit of work on your part. You must thoroughly document EVERYTHING. Invest in a digital camera with a huge storage card and take hundreds of pictures. For example, if you have water damage, take pictures showing the standing water and water level as well as pictures of every single damaged item, especially those that you must throw out due to safety concerns.
Next, use a notebook or your computer to write down a complete inventory of damaged items along with their original cost and estimated replacement cost. Include everything, even small items. You'd be surprised at how your small losses soon add up to significant amounts. For example, if the contents of your refrigerator must be replaced due to the power being out for several days during a flood, make a thorough inventory of all items, even condiments. At $ 2 to $ 4 a bottle for salad dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, and olives, it does not take long before you have a huge grocery bill just to rest the basics.
Do not forget to keep receipts for any emergency repairs, temporary lodging, and other related expenses and include them on your claim. When filing the claim, be as thorough as possible and make sure that the claim form is complete and legitimate. Insurance companies love to delay payouts due to "missing or incomplete" information.
By taking a proactive approach to filing a property damage claim, you will definitely boost your payout.