When devastating events occur, homeowners find themselves in a whirlwind of emotion. Recuperating, planning, rebuilding, and coping with loss is overwhelming. For many, the challenge of ensuring they are getting the full compensation from the insurance policy is difficult.

Don't Be Underpaid for Your Homeowners Insurance ClaimsUnfortunately, underpaying claims happens. It is why policyholders need to understand their policy completely. Many policyholders have little understanding of the nuances of their coverage and when windows are shattered, roofs cave in, or a family barely escapes a fire, most homeowners just want to deal with the emergency and take whatever they can get, so they often cut their losses early in an effort to move on.

If you don't know what's covered by your policy, and you do not know what to expect, you may take what you are offered with little understanding that you may be entitled to more. Although it may seem difficult, these tips for before and after filing a claim can help homeowners get the most out each claim:

Before

  1. Review and understand your existing policy before you need to use it. Go over your policy with your home insurance agent so you fully understand what you are covered for, and what you are not. Make this a regular event, perhaps at the same time each year. As your needs change, your policy should change as well. This can ensure you are not underinsured or excluded from specific areas of coverage.

  2. Take pictures to document your home in "perfect" conditions. Insurance adjusters and homeowners take dozens of pictures after the damage is done, but there is often little information on the original state of the home. This inconsistency gives insurance companies more "wiggle room". When providing payouts. Document not only your belongings and personal property, but also the home itself inside and out including walls, roof, and ceiling.

After

  1. Use your cell phone, or camera to take pictures as soon as possible. The insurance company will take pictures as well, but having your own documentation may prove to be beneficial.

  2. Consider hiring your own independent adjuster. The insurance company will provide an adjuster, but having a second opinion who will act independently provides another valuable resource.

  3. Keep track, and have duplicate copies of all estimates and receipts. Also, prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged possessions, with their approximate age, initial price, and estimated cost to replace.

  4. Make temporary repairs to avoid more damage. Repair broken windows, leaky roofs, and other problems that can multiply into bigger problems later. Save all estimates, receipts, and payment information to provide to the insurance company later for reimbursement purposes.