Home Insurance Claim Dos and Don’ts: A Helpful Guide

February 2, 2024

Document the Damage 

One of the most important things to do after a home insurance claim is to thoroughly document all of the damage that was done. This documentation will serve as critical evidence when filing your claim.  

Document the Damage 

One of the most important things to do after a home insurance claim is to thoroughly document all of the damage that was done. This documentation will serve as critical evidence when filing your claim.  

Take high-quality photos and videos of all affected areas, capturing the damage from multiple angles. Zoom in on specific problem spots to show the details. If possible, include a common household item like a ruler in the shots to indicate scale. You’ll want photos of any destroyed personal property as well.  

In addition to photos and videos, you should obtain repair estimates from contractors. These will give the insurance adjuster an idea of the scope of damage and cost of repairs. Make sure to get estimates from more than one company so you can compare.

Save all documentation together, whether printed or electronic. This will make it much easier to submit to your insurance company. Thorough image and video evidence combined with detailed repair estimates provide proof of your losses.

Report Claims Quickly

It is absolutely critical that you report any potential home insurance claims as soon as possible after an incident occurs. Most home insurance policies have strict time limits for reporting claims, often between 24-48 hours after the damage takes place. Failing to promptly notify your insurance company can potentially nullify your claim or reduce the amount of money you ultimately receive.  

As soon as you notice any type of damage to your home that may be covered under your policy, immediately call your insurance company’s claims hotline to inform them. Many insurers now allow you to initially report claims online or via mobile app as well. Provide as many details as you can about what happened and the extent of damage. Follow up the initial phone call by also submitting any necessary claims forms that your insurer requires. 

It is understandable to be overwhelmed in the aftermath of a home emergency. But no matter how small or large the damage may be, you need to make reporting the claim to your insurance provider an urgent priority. Quick action can make a big difference in getting your claim approved and reimbursed in a timely manner. Don’t let delays or oversight result in forfeiting the important protection your home insurance policy provides.

Keep All Receipts 

When filing an insurance claim, it is crucial that you keep all original receipts related to damages or expenses incurred. This includes receipts for repairs, replacing damaged items, temporary housing, meals and any other costs associated with the incident. 

The insurance adjuster will need documentation of these expenses to properly process your claim. Having organized receipts makes their job easier and helps demonstrate the validity of your claim. Make sure to keep these receipts in a safe place during the claims process.

Some specific tips on keeping receipts:

Retain all original receipts, do not throw them away even if you have made digital copies. The insurance company may request to see originals.

For any repairs or replacements done, get itemized receipts that list all labor and materials. Avoid lump sum receipts.

For temporary housing like hotels, keep folios showing the dates and itemization. Also keep restaurant receipts.

Create a well-organized file folder or binder for all receipts related to the claim. This makes it easy to locate receipts as needed.

Take photos or make copies of receipts in case the originals get misplaced or damaged. But still keep the originals available.

Proper documentation is key when filing claims. The adjuster needs proof of your expenses to justify payouts. So be meticulous about keeping and organizing all receipts related to the claim. This small effort on your part can prevent delays and headaches when having your claim processed.

Understand Your Policy

Your home insurance policy is a legally binding contract that provides details on what is and isn’t covered in the event of damage. It’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of your policy’s coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions before filing a claim. 

Coverage Limits

Your policy will specify the maximum payout limits for your dwelling, personal property, loss of use, liability, and other coverages. Be aware that the cost to fully repair or replace your home and belongings may exceed these limits. Review your policy regularly to ensure your limits adequately cover the rebuilding cost of your home and the value of your possessions.


The deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in. Deductibles typically range from $500 to $5,000 or more. Understand how your deductible applies to each type of claim and coverage. Higher deductibles lead to lower premiums but greater costs in the event of a claim.


Every policy excludes certain types of damage. Common exclusions include earthquakes, floods, normal wear and tear, nuclear events, and intentional losses. Know what causes of damage are excluded to avoid unexpected denials of coverage later. Exclusions help insurance companies limit risk.

Carefully studying your policy gives you the knowledge to maximize your claim benefits and avoid frustration. Consult with your agent to clarify any confusing or concerning policy details before disaster strikes. Being proactive puts you in a stronger position when filing a claim.

Be Honest

When filing an insurance claim for home damage, it’s important to provide accurate information and cooperate fully with your insurance company. Being dishonest or intentionally misleading your insurer can jeopardize your claim and may even be considered insurance fraud. 

Provide complete and truthful details about what happened and the extent of the damage. If you’re unsure about any details, say so, but don’t exaggerate or speculate. If the damage resulted from an accident or negligence, admit fault honestly. Attempting to avoid responsibility could make you appear deceitful.

Answer all your insurance company’s questions thoroughly and honestly. Provide all relevant documents they request. Omitting damage or any other requested details can cast doubt on your credibility. Promptly report any new damage or discoveries, even if they hurt your claim. 

Full cooperation shows good faith. Refusing to provide information or access to inspect the damage can make you appear evasive and raise suspicions, jeopardizing your claim. Remember, the insurer needs accurate information to evaluate your claim fairly. Honesty and transparency are always the best policies when filing an insurance claim.

Maintain Ongoing Communication

After filing your claim, maintain clear and consistent communication with your insurance company and any contractors they hire. Provide updates on the status of repairs and any developments related to your claim. Respond promptly to all requests for information from the insurance adjuster. 

Ask questions if you are unsure about any aspect of the claims process or proposed repairs. Keep thorough records of all conversations, including dates, names, and details discussed. Follow up any verbal conversations with email to document the discussion.

If the insurance company denies certain repairs or does not provide adequate compensation, be persistent in appealing these decisions. Provide any additional documentation and emphasize why the repairs are essential to restore your home. Politely escalate to supervisors if needed until your claim is properly addressed.

Maintaining professional and organized communication protects you throughout the claims process. It also builds a record you can reference if any disputes arise down the road.

Don’t Make Repairs Too Soon

It can be tempting to start repairs right away after a home insurance claim. However, it’s important to get approval from your insurance company before beginning any repairs or throwing away damaged items. 

Making repairs too soon without approval can cause problems being reimbursed by your insurance company. Your insurer will want to send an adjuster to assess the damage, review repair estimates, and confirm what repairs are covered under your policy.

Rushing into repairs can jeopardize your claim if the insurance company didn’t get a chance to review the damage and approve the repair scope and costs. You may end up paying out of pocket for repairs that should have been covered.

To avoid issues, contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the damage occurs. Walk through the property with the claims adjuster and get their written approval on the repair scope and costs. Keep all damaged items until the claims process is complete.

Making unauthorized repairs without giving your insurer time to inspect can give them reason to deny your claim. Save yourself hassle by getting approval first before repairing any damage after an insurance claim.

Save All Damaged Items 

After a home insurance claim, it’s important to save any damaged items until the claims adjuster approves their disposal. Don’t throw away damaged furniture, appliances, carpeting, or other items before the adjuster has seen them and approved disposal or replacement. 

Insurers need to be able to inspect damaged items firsthand to verify that the damage matches your claim. Disposing of items too soon can raise suspicion or result in your claim being denied. The adjuster may also be able to salvage certain items.

Keep all damaged possessions in your home or in storage. Don’t move them off site without permission. Take clear photos or video first to document anything you must dispose of for health or safety reasons before the adjuster arrives. 

Retaining damaged items shows the insurance company you are filing your home insurance claim in good faith. It allows them to fully investigate and process your claim to get you the maximum reimbursement you are entitled to under your policy.

Research Repair Companies 

When your home is damaged, you’ll need to find qualified contractors to make repairs. It’s important to do your research before hiring any company.

Check Licensing and Certifications

Any contractor you hire should have the proper licenses and certifications for their trade in your state. This ensures they have undergone the proper training and carry insurance. Ask to see their license and write down the number so you can verify it with your state licensing board.

Look at Reviews and Reputation

Search online for reviews of any contractor you’re considering. Look at review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. See what past customers have said about their work and professionalism. A company with a long history of positive reviews is a good sign. Be wary of any with numerous complaints.

Get Multiple Bids

You should always get bids from at least three contractors before settling on one. Make sure to get quotes in writing with a detailed scope of work. Comparing multiple bids allows you to look for red flags and make sure pricing is fair. Go with the most detailed bid from the most qualified contractor.

Getting estimates from several licensed and reputable contractors ensures you find the best company to repair your home after a loss. Take your time and do thorough research.

Be Prepared for Delays  

The claims process often takes longer than expected, so prepare yourself mentally for a lengthy timeline. From the initial inspection to final repairs or reimbursement, an insurance claim can easily take several weeks or months to fully resolve. 

Managing your expectations upfront helps avoid frustration down the road. Keep in mind that the insurance company must conduct a thorough investigation of your home insurance claim, which involves multiple steps like:

  • Scheduling an adjuster to assess the damage 
  • Waiting for repair estimates and approvals
  • Ordering special parts if needed
  • Coordinating contractor availability 

Delays can happen at any stage, especially if there’s a backlog of claims from a major weather event. Persistence and patience are key. 

Ask your claims adjuster for a reasonable timeframe so you know what to expect. Check in periodically for status updates. Politely follow up if several days go by without any communication from your insurance company. 

While you wait, take further steps to protect your property from additional damage. Document expenses for reimbursement later. Having a claim denial overturned or expedited takes diligent follow-through. But avoid harassing your insurance company, as that normally further slows the process.

Staying proactive yet patient puts you in the best position to get your claim resolved fairly and efficiently. Thinking long-term helps endure short-term delays.

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