Checklist: Filing an insurance claim for property damage

Filing an insurance claim for property damage is difficult if you’re not prepared. With this checklist, you’ll be much better prepared to take all necessary steps to protect your rights and interests from your insurance company who will likely try and devalue or deny the claim.

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Here’s a list of things you’ll need to do if you ever need to file an insurance claim for property damage.

1. Mitigate losses

After it’s safe for you to tend to the damaged property, take all necessary steps to prevent any further damage. For example, if a storm caused roof damage, place tarps over the holes and place furniture and valuables in storage or in a safer location.

No matter how damaged your business or personal items may be, don’t throw them away until they’ve been properly documented.

2. Review all potentially relevant policies and provisions

If a disaster strikes, you’ll want to have as much of an understanding of what will and won’t be covered by your policy. If you don’t have a copy of your policy, you can contact your insurer for a copy.

*The best time to review your policy coverage is before any damage occurs, but you should also review the policy each time it renews to understand new policy limits and other changes.

3. Notify your insurance carrier

Once you’re in a safe location, notify your insurance company of the property damage. Provide them with your identifying information so they can access your policy, then tell them the time and location of the incident and a description of the loss.

Remember to provide them with your updated contact information, especially if you’re forced to stay away from your home or business. Your policy might require you to provide additional information, so you need to know what information your policy requires you to provide in the event of property damage.

4. Promptly hire an attorney

Although you’d hope that your insurer will be there for you when you need them the most, especially when you pay a premium each year, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Having an attorney on your side will help make sure your rights are protected at all times.

Commercial property damage attorneys at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates are ready to hear your case and fight on your behalf.

5. Consider a litigation hold

Ask your attorney to request a “litigation hold,” which is a directive stating that the insurer must preserve all documents and other information that is relevant to your claim. A litigation hold is designed to keep information from being destroyed, either intentionally or unintentionally.

6. Quantify and document the loss with expert help

As long as you can do it safely, take as many pictures of the damage as possible. You want to document as much as you possibly can so you’ll have the best chance of obtaining full compensation.

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Make sure your camera’s time/date stamp feature is turned on or that you preserve all metadata for the photos or videos (your attorney will help you with this).

7. Cooperate with the insurance company

Even if you’ve had a bad experience with an insurer before, don’t let that preconceived notion cloud your approach. Be as polite and cooperative as possible and meet whatever deadlines are specified in your policy. You want to give your insurance company as few reasons as possible to deny your claim – they’ll look for any excuse they can to save themselves some money.

Cooperating with your insurance company might include submitting the documents they request and waiting for their approval before beginning any repairs or replacing your damaged property. It could lead to a lot of costly complications if you don’t, including a potential claim denial or reduction.

8. Request interim payments

Although you can request an interim payment at any point in the claims process, it doesn’t mean you’ll get it. You need to prove why your request is reasonable and that your request for interim payments is reasonable. This is another area where one of our attorneys can help you succeed in your claim.

9. Review dispute resolution procedures

While you likely don’t want to invite a dispute with your insurer, you need to remember that it could happen. Check your policy to make sure you follow all dispute resolution procedures. Again, you don’t want to give the insurer an excuse to deny your claim. If the company still refuses to pay what you believe you deserve, get in touch with an attorney.

Property damage? Call the experts.

If you’re having problems filing an insurance claim, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Chicago commercial property damage attorneys at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates. Contact us online or call (800) 985-1819 for a free case review.