Insurance and Finance

How to File a Property Insurance Claim

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 1.1.13

It’s bad enough when your home is damaged in a storm or a fire. Then you have to figure out how to file your property damage claim. Do you know where to begin, or if your renters or homeowners policy will cover your losses?

“Handling a property damage claim is easier if you’ve prepared in advance for the unthinkable,” says Stephen Fehler, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance regional underwriting manager. Fehler says you should always know what coverage you need; keep up on maintenance that can prevent bigger claims; and know your insurance agent. 

Here are his tips for ensuring a smooth claims process.

Do a home inventory.

With video cameras and ubiquitous smartphones, it’s easier than ever to document your belongings. Just video each room to preserve memories of the little things you may forget to report. “A video can serve as a visual prompt and reminder, and will serve as proof of what you have,” Fehler says. You can keep a written record, receipts, and photos, as well. The little things add up.

Insure for replacement cost.

There’s a difference between insuring your possessions for actual cost value — the value of an object minus its depreciation — and replacement cost, or what items will cost to replace. The higher premium may be worth it to you.

Consider special coverage for furs, jewelry, or artwork.

Property insurance policies typically have limits for your diamonds and other specialty items. Talk to your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent about your prized possessions to determine if a personal articles floater policy is right for you. “That Remington bronze statue you have may not be covered otherwise,” Fehler says.

Protect your liability by keeping your home in good repair.

It’s about spending $100 now to repair a stairway to save thousands later in deductible cost or personal injuries damages.

Keep important papers organized.

To prevent panic over where your home inventory is located or what your Agent’s number is, get organized. Keep your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agency’s info in your smartphone, and consider cloud services or a safe deposit box for storing important documents.

Prevent further damage.

After a storm, fire, or other catastrophe, Fehler says the most important thing beyond personal safety is preventing further damage to your property. “It’s only in your best interest to prevent additional damages, as far as how long you’re going to be displaced during repairs,” he says. Save receipts for any repair work you do for possible reimbursement from your insurance company.

Contact your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent as soon as possible.

Keep them in the loop from the beginning and call the claims number right away. Also stay in communication and let your Agent know your plans if you have to relocate during repairs.

Record the damage.

The more documentation you have of before and after, the better. “Document as much damage as you can as quickly as you can,” Fehler says. “Snap pictures, if it’s safe to do so.”

Call your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent today to make sure you’re covered.

© 2013 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance