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Are you experiencing a problem that may warrant an insurance claim? If so, when should you tell your insurance company? Should you tell your insurance company at all? It’s typically in your best interest to make a claim as soon as possible. When you can start the repair, remediation, and recovery process depends on when you filed your claim. There are some steps you may want to take, however, before filing an insurance claim.

1. Do What You Can to Mitigate the Loss Before Filing an Insurance Claim

You have a responsibility to minimize your property damage. Put a tarp over your roof after storm damage, for example, or start draining water in your basement after flooding.

Insurance companies expect you to:

  • Mitigate losses
  • Use the resources available for the emergency repairs
  • Do tasks within your control

You don’t have to be an insurance expert or even know much about your insurance policy. You just need to know the policy conditions for your duties after a loss. Every insurance policy contract contains this. It can include preventing further damages and preserving evidence of the loss. You can spend money to minimize losses during this step. The insurance company will normally reimburse you for reasonable expenses. It is in your, and their, best interests to prevent further damages. Failing to do so could result in losses that are not covered.

You can also take steps to ensure your immediate safety. Turn off the electricity if your house is flooded. If a criminal act such as theft or burglary has taken place, like a break-and-enter, then call the police.

2. Decide If You Want to File a Claim

First, appraise the situation. Do a visual assessment of the damages. Document everything. Use your phone or a digital camera to take as many pictures as you can. We recommend taking between 150-200 pictures for a house around 2,000 square feet. You really can’t have too many pictures. It’s always helpful to have proof of the damages even if you aren’t filing an insurance claim.

Take an inventory of all of the items that have been lost, damaged, or stolen. Have some detailed notes about how, where, and why the damage happened.

Next, consider the cost of filing an insurance claim. Get an estimate of the cost to repair or replace any of your damaged or stolen property. Factor that into the cost that you need to pay a deductible. It may not always be worth it to file a claim. If the incident has caused an estimated $1,000 worth of damage, and your deductible is $1,000, for example.

You may want to more carefully consider before filing a new claim if you’ve filed a claim on your policy in the past. Making multiple claims over five to seven years can be seen as higher-risk. That could make it difficult, or more expensive, to renew your policy.

It’s almost always in your best interest to make a claim if it involves more than $10,000 in damages. It doesn’t matter how many previous claims you’ve made.

3. Contact Your Insurance Company Immediately

You should call your insurance company right after you decide that filing an insurance claim is necessary. Remember that the phone call is more than likely being recorded. Insurance companies are not charities that want to give you money after a loss. Only state facts that you are sure of. Don’t state assumptions.

The sooner you contact your insurance company, the sooner:

  • An adjuster can be sent to your location
  • They can assess the damage
  • You can start on repairs and recovery

Insurance contracts contain proof of loss conditions. It will detail the time frame in which you must notify the insurance company of a claim after a loss. In many cases, you must submit proof of loss forms or documentation within a specified time frame.

4. Consider Contacting a Public Adjuster

A public adjuster is an insurance specialist that provides assistance and guidance throughout the claims process. They will:

  • Assess loss and damages
  • Communicate with the insurance company on your behalf
  • Negotiate with your insurance company for maximum coverage
  • Stick with you during each step of the claims process

Some people hire a public adjuster before they file a claim. Others hire one after. You could choose to hire a public adjuster if the insurance company is:

  • Dragging its feet
  • Denying coverage for a claim
  • Presenting a low or unreasonable offer
  • Showing signs of bad faith insurance tactics or unfair claims settlement practices.

Aftermath Adjusters & Consulting can relieve much of the burden during a stressful time, using our professional expertise to maximize your compensation.