If I have to file a claim on an insurance policy, what’s the best way to go about it? :
- First, know your policy -- know what’s covered, what’s excluded and what the deductibles are.
- If you have to file a claim, do so as soon as possible. Don’t let the bills or receipts pile up. Call your agent or your company’s claims hotline; your policy might require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
- Provide complete, correct information. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
- Keep copies of all correspondence. Write down information about your telephone and in-person contacts, including the date, name and title of the person you spoke with and what was said. Also, keep a record of your time and expenses.
- Ask questions. If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for the specific language in the policy that is in the question. Find out if the disagreement is because you and the insurance company interpret your policy differently. If this disagreement results in a claim denial, make sure you obtain a written letter explaining the reason for the denial and the specific policy language under which the claim is being denied.
- Don’t rush into a settlement. If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement. If you have any questions regarding the fairness of your settlement, seek professional advice.
- Auto and homeowners policies might require you to make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Your policy should cover the cost of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Also, maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photographs or video of the damage before making temporary repairs.
- While temporary repairs are a good idea, don’t make permanent repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before the damage is inspected.
- If possible, determine what it will cost to repair your property before you meet with the claims adjuster. Provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made to your property. Ask the claims adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.
- For accident and health claims, ask your physician to provide your insurance company with details about your treatment, medical conditions and prognosis.
- If you suspect a provider is overcharging, ask the insurance company to audit the bill and verify whether the provider used the proper billing procedure.
- If you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement, or if you have further questions about a claim or policy, contact my office at the number below for assistance.