Things to Expect When You File an Insurance Claim

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Contributor, Benzinga
March 16, 2022

Filing an insurance claim can be stressful, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process. However, knowing how to file an insurance claim correctly can differentiate between having your claim approved or denied. Continue reading to find out six things you can expect when you file a claim, along with how you can ensure that your claim is processed quickly. Keep in mind that the sooner you file your claim, the faster you'll get your money and be able to make any necessary repairs or replacements.

6 Things to Expect When You File an Insurance Claim

Calling your insurance company will start the claims process. Here are six things you can expect after you initiate your claim. 

1. A call from a claims adjuster: Your insurance company will assess your claim and assign you a claims adjuster, often known as a claims specialist. The claims adjuster will assess the damage and compensate you according to the terms of your insurance policy. They will handle your claim on behalf of the insurance company. 

The claims adjuster may ask to meet in person to examine the damage and arrange any needed repairs. Inquire about your policy's handling of repairs, injuries and medical charges. If there is something you don't understand, don't hesitate to reach out and ask questions of your claims adjuster. 

2. A request to supply pictures or a video of the damage: Take pictures and videos of the damage to your property and what was inside. For example, a flood in your home wrecked your furnishings. Before a disaster, taking photographs or videos of your property can help you establish a benchmark. Pictures or videos of the damage after the incident are also helpful when reporting a claim, as it can help the insurance company assess the severity of the damages you suffered.

3. Negotiations with an insurance adjuster: Ideally, your insurance adjuster will make a reasonable offer. However, this isn't always the case. If you believe the settlement being provided is too low, you may bargain or request that the adjuster demonstrate to you how they arrived at that figure. This process provides you with valuable information to prevent low claims payouts. In addition, an estimate from an independent contractor can help you make your case when disputing the adjuster's damage estimate. 

4. A waiting period: While insurance covers the cost of replacing or repairing damaged property, it is also critical that this action occurs as soon as possible. It's not nice for anyone if they have to go weeks without a car or are uprooted from their home for months. 

The insurance company has a specified number of days to let you know whether or not they are accepting the claim, depending on your state's requirements. However, whether you have a damaged roof or a car to be repaired, the wait can seem lengthy. 

If you are unsure how long your insurance company has to react to your claim, call your state's department of insurance.

5. Temporary relocation: If an insurance adjuster believes your house is unlivable, your homeowners insurance policy usually covers additional living expenses such as rent, food, pet boarding, utilities and transportation.

Living expenses must be fair considering your current lifestyle. For example, owning a modest property and living alone means you can’t expect to have temporary quarters in a multi-bedroom penthouse suite. Similarly, don't pack your large family into a tiny motel room. Temporary housing should provide comfortable living quarters for the time it will take for repairs to be made.

6. Payment and completion of repairs: The ultimate goal of the claims process is getting your money and your repairs completed. While adjusters can often issue you a check on the spot, the money may be paid to the repair shop or contractor, depending on your insurance company's claims process. If you choose a shop recommended by your provider, it might pay the shop directly. A home repair contractor may require you to sign a legal document instructing the insurance company to pay the contractor in rare situations. But don’t do this without first consulting your insurer.

Is Filing an Insurance Claim Worth It?

You must decide whether or not making a claim is worthwhile. Keep in mind the following.

A claim with your insurance company is unnecessary if the property damage is less than your deductible. In this situation, avoiding the claims process will avoid an unwarranted claim on your records.

Know your insurance deductible before calling. If your deductible is more than the cost of your repair, you can do the repairs yourself and avoid frivolous claims.

You may lose your claims-free discount on a combined home/auto policy if you file a claim. Some providers reward consumers for combining house and auto insurance with no claims. Filing a claim on your house or car insurance could result in increased premiums if you lose your claims-free discount.

Common Mistakes Made When Filing Insurance Claims

It can make a big difference if you know how to file an insurance claim the right way. Avoid these mistakes to make sure your claims are paid quickly.

Cleaning up too soon: Cleaning up damages too quickly can delay the claims procedure. Don't toss damaged items or receipts that support your claim.

Lacking documentation: You should photograph or videotape to demonstrate the extent of the damage.

Waiting too long to file: Depending on the laws of your state, you could have up to a year to file a claim. However, the insurance company may not cover your claim if you wait too long. In any case, the sooner you file a claim, the sooner you can have your damages repaired.

Filing for something that isn’t covered: You must ensure you have the right coverage in place. For example, flood damage is not covered by homeowners insurance. You’ll need to file flood claims through your flood insurance provider.

What is a Third-Party Insurance Claim?

A first-party insurance claim is one that is made with your own insurance company, whereas a third-party insurance claim is filed with the insurance company of the at-fault party.

The type of claim you file will be determined by who was responsible for the accident; however, the first step is to file a claim if you were harmed in an accident. You should file a claim to seek compensation for your losses, such as doctor's bills, time away from work and pain and suffering. Suing for personal injury is another option for pursuing compensation.

Because insurance requirements differ from state to state, knowing your state’s claims laws is essential. If in doubt, contact your state's department of insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why was my claim denied?


Because of the nature of the accident or your coverage policy, your claim may be denied. For example, if there is evidence that you broke state laws during the incident, your claim would most likely be denied. In addition, if your claim is for something that is not covered, it may be denied. If you purposefully damage your own property, for example, your claim may be denied since insurance does not cover intentional damage.


Is it possible to cancel an insurance claim?


Yes, you have the option to cancel a claim. Once you’ve made the decision to cancel a claim, contact your insurance provider with your name, claim number and the reason for the cancellation. Your claims agent will walk you through the process of canceling your claim, including any documentation you’ll need to give. The majority of insurance companies do not charge a fee for canceling a claim.