How to file a claim: A step-by-step guide
Most home insurance claims involve the following steps (though yours may vary somewhat depending on where you live and the nature of your claim):
- Mitigate the loss, but only if you are safely able to. This means preventing continued damage. For example, if your pipe bursts, you might shut off the water.
- Call the police or emergency responders if necessary. Not every claim calls for this, but if you experience theft or a fire, call the appropriate authorities.
- Contact your insurance company immediately. You can report a claim to Kin 24/7 via 866-204-2219 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have your policy number and a basic description of the loss handy! We'll need to know the date of loss, the circumstances that caused the loss, and what damages you experienced.
- Document the damage with photos and written descriptions. While your claims adjuster will gather facts about the cause of damage and the extent of damage, it helps to give them a starting point with your own documentation (if you are safely able to! Do not put yourself in harm's way). If you're able to, photograph and list the damage to your home and belongings. It helps if you have a home inventory to consult during this process.
- Work with your claims adjuster. Once you report a claim with Kin, we'll assign a claims adjuster to your case. They will evaluate your loss, investigate the damage, and more. Be prepared to answer their questions about the loss. Provide the adjuster with your home inventory and photos of lost items so they can add it to the file.
- Get an estimate of the damage. You claims adjuster will prepare an estimate of your total damages, review their findings, and determine whether your insurance policy covers the loss and to what extent.
- Get your claims payment. Your claims adjuster will issue payment based on your policy so you can get repairs underway.
- Take a bow. At this stage, your claim is considered resolved. Well done!
What to expect after filing a homeowners insurance claim
Once the claim adjuster comes to inspect the damage, they will create a loss report. This may take up to 14 days to complete. During this time, you should also receive a Claims Bill of Rights from your insurance company, if you live in Florida. Review it so you know your rights and the claims timeline.
The adjuster will guide you on how to turn in receipts for items and estimates for damage repairs. Submit these to the adjuster as you get them.
Once repair costs are approved, the work begins. Contractors will ask you to sign a release so that they can get paid directly from your insurer for the work performed. This way, you aren’t out of pocket for the expenses waiting for reimbursement.
If your belongings are lost or damaged and the claim is approved, you'll get a payment so you can replace them.
For Florida, your complete claim will be approved or denied within 90 days.
If you dispute the claim, you may be able to take advantage of mediation though the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Consumer Services.
How to mitigate post-damage losses
While you can't prevent every loss, it's your responsibility to take reasonable steps to lessen the severity of the loss. For example, you might take steps to prepare your home for a hurricane or curb losses after an incident happens.
For example, you might:
- Call the police or fire department to intervene in a break-in or fire respectively.
- Turn the water off when a pipe bursts.
- Board up a broken window after a burglary.
- Put a tarp over the hole in the roof after a tree falls on your home.
That said, exercise common sense and caution. Do not put your safety at risk. Ask your insurance company if you have questions about how to proceed with a loss.
If you are unable to take safe actions to mitigate losses, be sure to document your reasons and explain them to your adjuster.
Can you do repairs before the adjuster arrives?
Wait for an adjuster to be assigned to your claim and to investigate the loss before you make any repairs. You want your adjuster to be able to evaluate the full extent of the damage. Otherwise, you risk not being reimbursed for work done or getting a smaller payout than you should.
That said, if you are in immediate need of repairs for safety or health reasons, explain this to your claims representative. It is possible to get the repairs done in emergency scenarios and provide a receipt for the work. In this case, we often want a licensed contractor, ideally within the Managed Repair Network, to provide an estimate and complete the work.