How to Make Your Insurance Claim Go Smooth As Butter

 

Insurance claims suck! They’re stressful, slow, confusing, and worst of all you’re filing one because something bad happened. After being part of hundreds of claims, I wanted to put together some of the best practices that we and our clients have used to make them a LOT less painful for everyone.
Probably the biggest time saver of us all is utilizing your insurance company’s in-network companies. Whether that’s an approved auto body shop they work with, a restoration company for your home, or a physician network for workers comp., this is going to save massive time and headaches. Most policies allow you to fix your car or repair your house from whomever you choose, as long as your adjuster approves of the repairs. It can take a week or longer for that negotiation between the adjuster and body shop to get an approval. And that’s before the repairs can even start! When you go with a body shop in their network, the body shop acts as your adjuster, and can start repairs immediately. You’ve saved yourself a week +, and the work is now probably guaranteed for the life of you owning the car. Win-win.

Be flexible for your adjuster. Unless you’re doing something that can’t wait, pick up the phone if they call. They’re probably working on dozens of other claims besides yours, and getting them on the phone is usually pretty tough. They return calls when they have time, and 9/10 times you’re going to get their voicemail if you call them. If you miss their call it coule be hours or a day before you can get back in touch.

To piggyback on the last point; be organized. Have all your questions written down, and go into calls assuming this is your one chance for the day to speak with the adjuster. It might be hours or the next day before the adjuster can get back to you.

Is Water Damage Covered Under My Homeowners Insurance?

The answer is yes…and no. It’s going to depend on what causes the water damage and where it comes from. We’re going to dive into a standard California homeowners policy to answer this. Your policy covers a “sudden and accidental discharge of water”. Here are a couple examples that would fall into that category:

  • A pipe bursts in your wall
  • Dishwasher hookup breaks off and pours water all over your kitchen
  • Washing machine pipe bursts

You can also get coverage for water backup (sometimes called sewer and drain backup). This won’t come standard on your policy, and must be added. It protects you if a toilet overflows while you’re on vacation, or if a sewer or drain backs up. You should add this coverage to your policy 100% of the time!

The key with these is that they happen suddenly, and they’re not a wear and tear issue. Which brings us to what’s not covered:

  • Wear and tear
  • Gradual leaks
  • Leaky faucets

All of these fall into the same bucket of being maintenance or wear and tear problems, and are not covered under your insurance. If your plumbing system is getting up there in age (15 years or more), make sure you have it checked regularly, and fix or replace any problems. Water damage can be dramatically expensive if not fixed quickly. We’re talking thousands or tens of thousands of dollars!

Damage from a flood is also not covered, but can be insured under a separate flood insurance policy. A flood is water that enters your house from the outside, unless related to a burst pipe.

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Are Your Personal Belongings Covered While In Your Car?

Depends on the insurance policies you have. Full coverage car insurance covers your car, and depending on your policy, you may have limited coverage for permanently installed after-market parts (sound system, in-dash navigation, nicer wheels and tires, etc.). There is no coverage for your personal belongings under your car insurance policy though.

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