Should I Make a Claim on the Same Day as the Incident?
It is always best to make a claim on your homeowner's insurance policy as soon as you can--in fact many insurance companies prefer that you make a claim on the same day as the incident. However, there are some circumstances in which this is not possible, which is why the company has a specific time-frame in which you can file your paperwork and evidence. It is also important that you do not file your claim before gathering up all of the accident evidence you need, otherwise this can delay the reimbursement process. If you have any questions about the claims process, you should contact a company representative immediately, as the rules can vary between policies.
Every house insurance company has a specific timeframe outlined in which policyholders can file claims. There is no one answer to how much time you might have because every company is different. When applying for this kind of insurance, you should already be aware of these rules, and have the information readily available at all times in case you need to refer back to it.
Preferably, your homeowner's insurance carrier should have your claim information within 24 hours of the incident. This helps to ensure that the damage you are claiming does not worsen, as this could cause you to receive less of a reimbursement from the policy in some cases. Also, the chances of the provider viewing your claims as illegitimate decreases the sooner that you file the necessary information. Many cases of insurance fraud stem from policyholders making untimely claims that are not legitimate to begin with.
Also, filing a claim on the day of the incident could potentially reduce the chances of an investigation by a claims representative. Although such instances are nothing to fear, the fact is that your claim can be held up if you have to wait for someone to come investigate the damage in person. Any questions about claims investigations should be addressed with a company agent or representative.
In some cases, you might not be able to file within 24 hours. This is especially the case if you have to evacuate your home in the event of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, and you are restricted from the neighborhood for a certain period of time. If this happens, you should contact your insurance company right away so that they have an idea of what to expect from you.
Other times, you might have to wait for certain pieces of evidence before you can file your claim. Police reports, checklists and estimates are all such examples. It is still best that you call the company to let them know what happened, and that you will formally file a claim as soon as you obtain all of the necessary evidence.
The actual claims process varies between house insurance companies, so it is important to review the rules before you start. Generally, however, there are a few basic items that every company will require you to have. First, you will either need to fill out a claims form online, or call the company directly. In either case, you might have to physically sign paperwork depending on the company's requirements. You will need to be thorough as you can about the incident, including when and how the damage started, as well as what repairs are needed. Evidence, such as police reports, receipts for valuables and photographs might also be required by the company in order to properly process your claims application in its entirety before you are given any money.