Accidents can happen at any time. Maybe you were cruising down the highway and got hit by a reckless SUV driver, perhaps a devastating hurricane destroyed your property, or you witnessed a house robbery. You need support to get back on your feet in all these cases, so it lies in your best interest to file an insurance claim.
An Insurance claim is a formal document you submit to your insurance company to ask for monetary assistance to cover the damages. Roughly over 3 million insurances get filed annually in the US. However, filing an insurance claim is not easy despite this large number. There are several steps you need to follow. This includes following the timeline, submitting the correct paperwork, and having a reputable attorney in your corner. After all, where there is money involved, you want to ensure you get your due without being short-handed for a few dollar bills. So, if you need help with the process, here’s what you need to do:
1. Speak To A Lawyer
The legal world is specific. If you wish to file any document, you need evidence to back up your statements. Additionally, the filing also has a period. You have specific deadlines for your case to stay valid and for the insurance company to help you out. For example, the statute of limitation for filing for a car accident in Texas is one year. So, within a year, you need to get your affairs in order to deal with the destruction caused by the collision.
Therefore, you can document and submit concrete paperwork by contacting a reputable law firm and connecting with a well-established lawyer. To find a well-established lawyer in Tennessee, google the search terms “Knoxville TN attorney,” and you can get a listing of appropriate legal experts. It is also vital you review the type of insurance policy you have. For example, if you have actual claim insurance, you will receive a payout following the current market rate not at which you purchased the item. Alternatively, a replacement cost claim offers you the exact value of the item you lost or damaged.
Apart from knowing the type of insurance claim you have, you need to know the deadlines for filing, the documentation you will need, and investigate the total cost of the damage. If the value of what you are trying to pursue is less than your deductible, your lawyer will dissuade you from filing the case.
2. Contact The Police
You should inform the police if you have had a severe car accident or incidents like a house fire, burglary, and property damage. While a police investigation is not needed to file an insurance claim, it makes the process faster and much smoother.
These detectives will compile relevant details on the damage you incurred, which an insurance company can use to decide the worth of your claim. Most officers also go the extra mile by listing the witnesses on site, painting a complete picture of the incident, damaged or stolen items, and unusual findings on the scene.
3. Document Everything
Documentation helps you gather evidence that makes your claim valid. The proof you collect needs to reflect your submitted paperwork, so don’t leave any stone unturned. In motor vehicle accidents, you will need the name, address, phone number, insurance company details of the other driver, and a picture.
If you had a house fire, you might want to find the year when you bought the stove, the company that sold it, and how well-maintained the item is. Depending on the incident, check for phone logs, record the time when it occurred, and write down witness statements. Try to take as many pictures as you can from multiple angles in different lighting. Your hospital bill, discharge papers, and prescriptions are also relevant to the documentation process.
4. Call Up Your Insurance Company
When you have your evidence and paperwork in hand, reach out to your insurance company. You will get an agent assigned to you to take down the event’s details and provide you with a superficial review of your claim’s rough estimate. However, this is not the final verdict, and an investigation will follow to confirm the details.
The agent will also notify you of the time you have to submit all your paperwork, so if you wish to add more information, do it before the deadline strikes. Expect questions like the contact information of those involved, where the incident occurred, how long ago you were injured, and describe the incident itself.
5. Wait For The Insurance Company
After you contact your insurance company, an investigation starts. Generally, this takes about a week before you get contacted by the company. However, if the case is complex, it may take longer, but you will get informed if the investigation is inconclusive. The adjuster will go through your claims and visit the scene themselves. Witnesses will be questioned, and the damaged property will be studied. Your insurance policy also gets reviewed, including the extent of your coverage. The value of your belongings is calculated in cash.
While you’re with the adjuster, you may inquire about repair estimates. However, make sure the repair cost follows a standard market rate for a fair adjustment. Ensure you inform the adjuster and provide a receipt if you have an urgent repair, like a leaking radiator, faucet, or roof repair. When the adjuster is satisfied with their findings, you’ll hear back from the insurance company if your claim was approved or rejected. In both cases, you’ll get details on the decision and what steps you can take.
6. Review The Initial Offer
Before you receive your payment, you get an initial offer recorded on paper. This document is integral to getting a fair claim, so don’t sign it before reading through it. Go over the values written and check the total amount you will receive.
If it’s substantially less than your estimate and you find missing details, you can dispute the claim by turning to your lawyer. This estimate can result in a settlement where your insurance company can get penalized by the law. But if you’re happy with the claim value, go ahead and sign.
7. Receive Your Payment
The culmination of your insurance claim is getting your money. After both parties agree on the payout and all relevant signatures are on paper, your insurance company has about a week to pay you. But, complex and extensive cases with multiple damages and people involved can take longer. Most insurance companies pay you in two installments. You get the first check after the initial review when the adjuster goes over the damage and gives you an estimated cost. This amount has your deductibles already subtracted.
The second check is issued after the contractor gets finished with their work. Be sure that the insurance company pays you since the contractor sometimes receives the bill payment they had to forward to you. The repair also needs to get wrapped up within a year from the incident. You must also ensure that you pay all your premiums on time or have no outstanding payments; this impacts the coverage and can cause the company to withhold the cash.
Your insurance claim is an asset. Unprecedented events can happen at any time. You only prepare for them by making sure you have a reliable insurance company and a lawyer to help you out. If you experience an unfortunate accident, you must understand the ground rules of putting forward a claim. While the process can be involved and lengthy, it saves you from the consequences of damage or loss of property that could further become a drain on your finances.
The process involves discussing details with your lawyer, calling the authorities concerned, and collecting evidence. Once you submit the paperwork, the ball is in the insurance company’s court. After careful evaluation, you get an answer, and the settlement process begins, where you can accept the insurance company’s estimates or challenge their decision and renegotiate a figure. Your claim will go through as long as you have structured documents, receipts to back you up, and destruction of property or an injury to account for. A significant pitfall you should avoid is making late payments or skipping out on your premiums.