Had an insured loss? IT’S TIME TO GET ORGANIZED!!
How about a loss that wasn’t your fault, like a car wreck? IT’S STILL TIME TO GET ORGANIZED!!
This article is excerpted from the book “Insurance Claim Secrets REVEALED!”
Start A File
You must create a file immediately after your loss. Go to an office supply store and buy one of those cardboard accordion-like expandable folders that can hold lots of paperwork. Even a cardboard box with a lid on it is acceptable for keeping everything inside it. You don’t have to be fancy, just keep everything in one place. Your file also must be portable, so that rules out using a filing cabinet at home.
During the recovery process, place the following in your file:
A. Current copy of your policy. If you don’t have a copy handy, call your agent and have him get you a copy immediately.
B. Copies of all written correspondences (don’t forget emails) between you and ANYONE regarding your claim.
C. Phone, fax and email address record for everyone involved in the claim.
D. Photos you have taken of the damages…and the repairs. This includes videotapes or still photos of the damages that you took immediately after the loss.
E. A cassette tape of your own recorded statement about how the loss occurred. (See Chapter Twenty Five, Recorded Statements.)
F. A cassette tape recorder, batteries and spare tapes for recording EVERY conversation that you have with the adjuster, claims examiner, appraiser, engineer, attorney, contractor…ANYONE with whom you discuss this claim.
G. Receipt envelope. ALL receipts pertaining to this loss should be in that envelope. NEVER give the insurance company your original receipts. They should get copies.
H. Expense log: emergency services, living expenses, mileage, even extra child care, or boarding your pets…ANYTHING that you have to pay for that relates to this loss.
I. City, County, and State Building Code requirements in writing.
J. Copy of your state Department of Insurance statutes on Bad Faith Claims, or Unfair Claims Practices. (See the Appendix for a list of all 50 states’ insurance departments, and their phone numbers. You can also find this free information at my website, http://www.insurance-claim-secrets.com ).
K. Waiver of Lien forms (See Chapter Thirty, Settling Your Claim). These forms are also downloadable at the website.
L. Worker’s list. A list of everyone who works on your home, who they work for, and what work they’re doing. Taking their photo would be a great idea, also. Why? You could have lots of strangers working on your home. Would you normally allow strangers to walk around inside your house without knowing who they are?
M. Professional reports, such as an Engineer report, Cause and Origin report, Fire or Police report, etc.
N. Copy of all estimates.
O. Copy of all repair contracts. NO WORK WITHOUT SIGNED CONTRACTS. Also, contractors occasionally find hidden damages that will require supplemental repair costs. YOU are responsible for these costs, even though the insurance company agrees to pay. The insurance company doesn’t own your house…you do. GET IT IN WRITING.
P. Copies of any advance payment checks you receive from the insurance company.
Q. If you have a contractor, or ANYONE who works on your damaged property, get a copy of their insurance certificates that show their liability insurance is in effect. No insurance, no work. Period. You CANNOT afford to have a worker get hurt on your premises and file a claim against you for liability or medical expenses.
Keep a Journal
Buy a journal book, or just simply use a standard sized legal pad as your claims journal. This means that you should write down EVERYTHING that happens in your claim.
Write down every phone conversation: Date, time, phone number, who you talked to, what was said.
Write down every meeting: Date, time, length of meeting, people in attendance, what was discussed.
Write it down WHEN IT HAPPENS. Don’t rely on your memory a few days later. You’ll be sorry if you try that.
Once again, there’s no downside for you if you handle your claim like a professional. Think about this…do you just blithely allow your employer to send you a payroll check each week for whatever amount he chooses? If your paycheck was wrong, you’d challenge it, wouldn’t you? If the waiter at your favorite restaurant brought you the check, and it was $20.00 too much, you’d argue about it, wouldn’t you? Well, those numbers are chicken feed in comparison to the THOUSANDS of dollars in an insurance claim.
Don’t just accept the insurance company’s settlement without MAKING SURE it’s correct!
For more information, go to: http://www.insurance-claim-secrets.com
Copyright 2008, Russell D. Longcore. All Rights Reserved.