Filing a claim
Step 1 - Understand your policy
Before you have a loss, sit down and carefully read your insurance policy. If you have any questions about what is or is not covered, call your agent or insurance company.
Step 2 - Make an inventory
Before you have a loss, make a list of all of your household goods. Photos and videos can help document the things you own and their value. It is important to list even small items such as kitchen utensils and clothing accessories. Keep receipts or other proofs of purchase for personal property of significant value, such as televisions, stereo equipment, and appliances. Warranty registrations or owners manuals also may be used to verify ownership and to properly identify damaged or stolen property. For a more detailed inventory list, link to: Inventory Tip Sheet
Step 3 - Protect your property
Do everything you can to prevent damage to your house and property. To collect on a claim, you must demonstrate that you tried to prevent further damage.
Step 4 - Notify your insurer
After a loss, tell your agent or insurance company as soon as possible. You will find the telephone number on your policy. Your insurer will tell you whether the loss is covered by your policy.
Tip: When to pay claims yourself
If the cost to repair the damage is not much more than your deductible, you might want to pay for the repairs without filing a claim. Most insurance companies report your claims to private, nationwide claim databases (such as the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or CLUE). Insurance companies use these databases to see the claims you have submitted in the past.
Step 5 - Sign a proof-of-loss statement
Within a month or two, your insurer may ask you to sign a sworn proof-of-loss statement and to provide a list of lost items and their values. Because the insurance company will pay you the actual cash value, save receipts for items that you replace. If you have replacement-cost insurance, you can estimate the cost to make repairs with new materials or to replace lost items with similar products within the next three months.
Step 6 - Evaluate the damage
An insurance adjuster will probably look at the damage to your property and prepare an estimate of loss. The amount of money the company pays on your losses will be based on this estimate. Consumers should make sure the estimate of loss covers all their losses and repairs necessary to restore the home's structural soundness, environmental safety, and appearance. The estimate may address mold, mildew, and structural damage due to contact with water, although many policies exclude such coverage.
Step 7 - Need a second opinion?
If you disagree with the adjuster's estimate of loss, you can get an independent appraisal of the damage at your own expense. If you do, we recommend that you hire a licensed contractor with a good reputation in the community. You can find out whether a contractor is licensed by the Oregon Construction Contractors Board from its website, www.ccb.state.or.us , or by calling 503-378-4621. The Better Business Bureau, 503-226-3981, is another source of information. We also suggest that you request and call references.
Step 8 - Resolve disputes
If either party disagrees with the other's damage estimate, it can initiate the appraisal clause of the contract. Each party selects a competent appraiser. The two appraisers select an independent umpire to resolve the dispute. If the appraisers can't agree on an umpire within 15 days, either party may ask a judge to select an umpire. Each party pays its own appraisal and attorney fees, but they split the umpire's fees equally.