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Frequently Asked Questions - Insurance Claims
Call the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-522-0071.
- Once you have re-established your home following the disaster, take time to do a home inventory. You can download a home inventory spreadsheet to help get started. You can also download the free NAIC myHOME Scr.APP.book app for iPhone. The app guides you through capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and storing them electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.
- Once you have completed the home inventory, talk with your agent to make sure your homeowners or renter's policy is adequate to cover your new investments.
- When you file a claim you will be asked to make a list of everything damaged or destroyed. This process can be easier with a good home inventory. If you do not have a home inventory, sit down as a family and make the list room by room. If you forget something in your initial list, you can add to it at a later date.
If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for the specific language in the policy that is in the question. Find out if the disagreement is because you and the insurance company interpret your policy differently. If this disagreement results in a claim denial, make sure you obtain a written letter explaining the reason for the denial and the specific policy language under which the claim is being denied.
Also, don’t rush into a settlement. If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement. If you have any questions regarding the fairness of your settlement, seek professional advice.
- Your insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to survey the damage at no cost to you. Public adjusters may offer the same services, but you would be responsible for any related fees. Check to be sure they are licensed with the state insurance department and ask for references and qualifications before retaining an independent adjuster.
- Do not feel rushed or pushed to agree on a settlement. If there are disagreements, try to resolve them with your insurer. If you cannot reach an agreement, your state insurance department can help you decide if arbitration or mediation is an option.
- Your full claim may come in multiple payments. The first will likely be an emergency advance and may include additional living expenses. The payment for your personal property and any additional living expenses will be made out to you. Payments for the structure may be payable to you and your lien holder if there is a mortgage on your home. Lenders may place that money in an escrow account to pay for repairs as the work is completed.
- Most insurance companies have a time requirement for filing a claim. The process will go faster if you can locate a copy of your policy and home inventory.
- Call the company or visit a mobile claims center to start your claim.
- You will be asked to list all items destroyed, damaged or missing. If you do not have a home inventory, begin making a list of items going room by room from memory. Include as much detail as possible, like where and when the item was purchased, the cost, brand name and model.
- If your car is damaged while in your garage/carport, it is covered by your automobile policy—not your homeowners policy. If you are insured by two separate companies for these coverages you must file a claim with both companies.
If your area has storm damage, it is likely your local agent is dealing with the same issues. You should have a copy of your policy or insurance card with your disaster preparation materials, but if you do not, an insurance company representative should be able to help you find this information. Often insurance companies will mobilize disaster response teams to come to you following large-scale disasters. A disaster response team that comes to your area can help you figure out what damages are covered, can start your insurance claim and will often cut you a check toward that claim to help you start the recovery process.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department will also help you find contact information for your insurance company following a widespread disaster. They can also help answer questions about your coverage or assist if you are having problems with your claim.
If your home has damage, once it is safe, it is your responsibility to make sure that the damage is not made worse because you did not take action. That means if you have a part of your roof missing, it is your responsibility to make the effort to cover the hole. As part of your claim, your insurance company will typically reimburse the expense of these temporary repairs—assuming the loss was caused by a covered peril—so keep all of your receipts. Before making any repairs, take photos of the damage. If you remove personal property from the home, do not dispose of it until an adjuster from your insurance company has reviewed it for your claim. Many policies include reimbursement for storage costs.
The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but it is important that you focus on filing your insurance claim(s) as quickly as possible to help protect your financial future.
The first step to getting your home restored is to contact your insurance company and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.
Take photographs/video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. After you've documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs.
If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
Cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits and contact details.
Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information may cause a delay in processing your claim.
If the first offer made by the insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department.