Follow these steps to make sure you are treated fairly in the event of a home insurance claim. Doing so could help you avoid many headaches when trying to settle a claim with your Kitchener Home Insurance company.
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Assess the damage and take immediate steps of remediation.
For example, if a pipe has burst and water is gushing through a wall or ceiling, turn off the main water valve for your home to stop the water flow. If there are items in the room that can be moved to avoid getting wet and damage, please do so. Always remember that safety should be your first priority. For example, you should never step into a pool of standing water that is near a live electrical outlet to try to remediate. When you are able to safely prevent further damage, it is always your responsibility to do so. There can be benefits of assisting with the cleanup of the loss. Some insurance companies will waive the deductible for work such as using removing water and drying the damaged area if it saves considerable time and money for the cleanup crew when they arrive.
Factor in your deductible and loss of your claims free discount.
Some ask “is it worth for me to make a claim?” It can if you properly factor in your policy deductible, loss of claims free discount and your existing claims record. The deductible is the portion of the claim that you must pay. An example of such would be a smoke damage claim that caused $25,000 in property damage. If your deductible is $1,000, the amount that would be paid by the insurance company towards the claim would be $24,000. If you have never had a prior claim, you may have a claims free discount of 10-20% on your policy. You will want to determine if it is worth losing this savings moving forward on your next renewal. If you already have a claim within the last 5-7 years on your record at the time of the loss, you should ask your broker/agent whether you will be surcharged or be non-renewed at the upcoming renewal for submitting the claim.
Give your agent or broker a call immediately
If it is not through business hours, there will be an afterhours claims number that you can call. Give clear details about the location of the damage, the time that you noticed it, and how extensive the damage is from what you can see. Taking pictures or video of the damage is always a good way to submit proof of such. If you are able to send by email or text, a time stamp of such is good practice. Keep in mind that it can take up to 48 hours for a claims advisor to be assigned to your claim. The claim advisor will want to confirm the best method to reach you to confirm the arrangements for emergency repairs. If you need to vacate the residence due to water, smoke, fire, sewage or other reasons, the claim advisor will make accommodation at a hotel until your residence is habitable. If you have a family member that you would prefer to stay with, you should ask the adjuster early on in the claims process what reimbursement would be provided by the insurance company for these arrangements. If your property has been broken into, it is best practice to call the police and obtain a copy of the police report that include list of stolen items to submit to the adjuster. The broker or agent will be able to answer questions you may have about the repair timeline, coverage limits, deductibles and how a claim submission could affect your home insurance premium in the future.
Work with the adjuster to arrange clean up and repairs
A claims adjustor will reach out to arrange a time for a contractor to come to your home to assess damage, quote the work and discuss the timeline for completion. If you have a preferred contractor that you prefer to work with, it is recommended that you mention this early on in the claim process so your preferred contractor can be a part of the bidding process. If you wish to make the repairs yourself, it is best to indicate your preference.
The claims settlement will be made
The claim can be settled after proper documentation has been confirmed and repairs have been completed. Your claims advisor will arrange with you for any documentation of owned items and a signed schedule of loss. If you incurred costs during the claim period, original receipts should be submitted for reimbursement. If you work with the restoration company/contractors assigned to your claim, the insurance company typically will pay them directly. If there is a cash settlement that is to be paid to you for making repairs yourself, the insurance company will typically remove the percentage for contractor profits to be removed from the claim payout. If there are certain items (such as photo, personal items that can’t be replaced) the adjuster will work with you to determine financial value in order to ensure the claim is paid out as fair as possible. Depending on the policy, you may only be entitle to actual cash value of your personal property (this is the depreciated value.)
If you are entitled to full replacement cost, the insurance company will typically require proof of purchase. If there is a lien/mortgage on your home, this will need to be evaluated as so ensure who is to be deemed the loss payee on the claim settlement.
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Every claim is different but all claims need to come to a close at some point in time. The final step in the claims is to meet with your adjuster to sign off regarding the complete of the claim and that the insurance company is released from any further work on your behalf toward the loss.
Should you have any additional questions about how claims are processed in Ontario, Canada, don’t hesitate to reach out to Kyle Wijnands. Kyle is a licenced insurance advisor who specializes in making sure that his customers have the best coverage, rates and customer service when setting up their policy and in the event of a claim.