How to take the stress out of filing a claim.

The filing of an insurance claim is often preceded by a traumatic and unfortunate event in your life, so the last thing you want to deal with in such a situation is a fight with your insurance company over the payment of a claim. Rather than banging your head against the wall, follow a few simple rules and the claims process should flow smoothly.

Get the right cover.

In many cases it’s what you do before the loss that streamlines the claim retrieval procedure.

Obviously nobody has a crystal ball, but if you’re smart enough to figure out you need to protect yourself with Building Construction and Public Liability Insurance, then you’ll be smart enough to want to make extra certain that any potential claim won’t be denied or payment delayed should an accident occur.

So if you’re in a flood or fire prone area, make sure that you’re covered for that by the policy, and for any other potential non-standard ‘risks’ that you think may pop up. Paying the extra premium may save you a lot of money in the end.

Read the fine print, and the regular print as well.

While tedious, when purchasing an insurance policy this is not the time to mutter “yeah, yeah, yeah”, flip to the back page of the contract and sign. Even if your agent is a pro, people make mistakes, and your coverage will depend on the information stipulated on the policy document you sign, not what is verbalised by the insurance agent.

Not only does properly reading through your policy at the time of purchase give you a full understanding of what’s covered and what’s not, you will then also become familiar with the ins and outs of how to process your claim should the need arise.

A biggie is to make sure that you file before the deadline of the loss occurring. Get to know your policy ahead of time, don’t just toss the paperwork into a box to be rummaged through when the “what if” comes to pass.

Follow the rules. This is not the time to let loose your inner rebel.

To mitigate their own risks, insurance policies will always include a list of practices that you’ll need to adhere to in order to maintain coverage. Don’t invalidate your policy by lying to your agent about the details of your policy or refusing to go along with the terms of your agreement.

From safety guidelines to the length of time your property is allowed to be left vacant, carefully read through the demands of your policy and be sure to comply. Remember, the insurance company puts in these stipulations to help prevent a loss from occurring in the first place, so it’s not just compliance that you’ll be gaining by sticking to the rules.

Only the facts, ma’am.

Should a loss occur, start collecting as much information as possible. Take photos and lots of them. If at all possible, try not to disturb the scene until the claims adjuster arrives. It is also a good idea to bring in an outside contractor at the same time to provide a third party estimate of the repair cost to the adjuster. If possible, arrange for the contractor to meet with the adjuster.

Keep any and all receipts you incur as a result of the loss, even if they only seem to be loosely related. Hotel stays and other related costs may be covered by your policy so keep good records.

The bottom line is that the more evidence you can provide the better. The more quickly you and the adjuster arrive to an agreement on your settlement, the faster the check will be in the mail.

Think twice before filing a small claim.

While it may seem unfair, it’s a fact of life that filing a small claim can cost you more in the long run in higher insurance premiums. A smart way to approach this situation is to take all the necessary steps as if you plan to claim, but then reassess how much you’d be out of pocket to pay for the damages yourself before you actually file. If the total loss isn’t much more than your excess you may choose to forgo the claim given the higher premium you will incur.

The bottom line is that insurance companies exist to protect you. If you follow the letter of your policy, file in time, and provide enough honest evidence to outline your damages, receiving a timely settlement doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth!

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