Like most other types of insurance, renters insurance is one of those necessary investments we hope we never need to "cash in on." However, there are times when events like natural disasters, theft, or internal catastrophes within the home cause damage to your personal property or to guests in your home — and those exact moments are when you need to file a renters insurance claim.
Not sure how to file a renters insurance claim? Don't worry; this step-by-step guide can help you out.
A Step-by-Step Guide on Filing Renters Insurance Claims
When disaster strikes, you want to do everything you can to make sure your most valuable personal property is covered, which is exactly why you pay for renters insurance. Unfortunately, most renters don't understand the ins and outs of filing a renters insurance claim, especially if they've never filed one before. As long as you follow the steps outlined below, though, you'll easily navigate the claims process for your renters policy.
Step #1: Document All Damage
The first step in any renters insurance claim is documenting the damage so you know what to request from your insurance provider in your claim. You should do this before anything else, including cleaning up the damaged property or removing broken items from your home.
As long as it's safe to do so, you should walk through your home and carefully document all the damage to your personal property. Make a list of any items that are damaged, lost, or missing, and take pictures of these items if possible. In many cases, claims adjusters will ask for this documentation and reference it as they issue your claim, so don't put it off.
When documenting your damaged, lost, or stolen personal possessions, you can also reference your home inventory. When you first obtained your renters insurance policy, you probably created a detailed home inventory where you listed out your personal property and its approximate value. This home inventory can really help you provide documentation for damages and replacement values, which can significantly expedite your claims process.
Step #2: Contact All Necessary Parties
After you document the damage to your personal property, you should then contact all necessary parties to make them aware of the situation. According to U.S. News and World Report, these parties may include your landlord or property management company, your renters insurance company, and possibly your local insurance agent. Your landlord may need to file a separate insurance claim to cover repairs to the property itself, whereas your renters insurance provider will handle your renters insurance claim for your own possessions.
In some cases, like theft or vandalism, you may also need to contact local law enforcement officials if you haven't already done so. Most of the time, your renters insurance company will ask for a copy of the police report when you make a claim that involves stolen or missing items from your home.
Step #3: File Your Claim
Once you document all of your damage and notify any necessary parties, it's time to actually file your renters insurance claim. Just like with your car insurance, filing a claim can feel overwhelming, but it's not hard if you come into it prepared.
When you're ready to file your claim, be sure to have your renters insurance policy handy so you can easily locate your policy number and other relevant information. Then, call the claims number on your renters insurance policy or visit your insurance company's website to file a claim online. Depending on what insurance provider you use, they may even have a smartphone app where you can file the claim and submit photos simultaneously.
You'll need to file a claim as soon as possible once the event occurs. In most cases, insurance companies want you to file the claim within 72 hours of the incident, but check your renters insurance policy if you aren't sure. Also, make sure to provide as much detail as you can about the event and the damage that occurred. This will help your claims adjuster work quickly, which will in turn help you.
Step #4: Submit All Requested Documents
After you file your claim, it's time to submit all the documentation to go along with it. These documents will likely include evidence of damage or loss and your home inventory. If your claim includes a personal liability component, then you may also be asked to submit documents from the doctor's office or emergency room your guest(s) visited for treatment. Furthermore, if your claim is the result of theft or vandalism, you'll probably need to submit a copy of the police report as well.
If you filed your claim online or through your insurance company's smartphone app, you may have already done this. However, it's important that you check in with your insurance agent and claims adjuster regularly throughout the claims process to make sure they have all the documentation they need to accurately file your renters insurance claim.
Step #5: Let The Adjuster Do Their Job
You've done all the leg work and filed your renters insurance claim, so now it's time to sit back and let the claims adjuster do their work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, your adjuster will inspect the damage or injury claims, then determine how much your insurance company should pay you. This process can take days or even a few weeks.
Although the "waiting game" with insurance claims can seem very aggravating, it's a necessary step in the process. Just make sure you make yourself available for any questions the adjuster has and provide any additional information they request within a timely manner and you can help speed up the claims process.
Nobody ever wants to file a renters insurance claim, but sometimes it must be done. However, you can make this seemingly daunting experience easier for yourself by documenting everything from the start and filing your claim in a timely manner. The more organized and detailed you are beforehand, the smoother the process will go.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I file a renters insurance claim?
You should consider filing an insurance claim if the cost of replacing your possessions exceeds your policy's deductible and you know that the reason you're filing the claim is absolutely covered by your policy.
What items will my renters insurance cover?
Most renters insurance policies cover your personal property in the case of damage from fire, wind, hail, smoke, theft, vandalism, water damage, mold, and other natural disasters. These policies also cover additional living expenses when your rental unit is deemed temporarily uninhabitable, and they cover liability if someone is injured in your home and you're found to be at fault.
Most of the time, renters insurance policies also cover items that you store outdoors, such as bicycles, lawn mowers, or patio furniture. However, always check your coverage amounts and other policy details to make sure these items are covered, especially if they’re costly items.
Are there exceptions to my renters insurance policy?
Renters insurance policies don't cover certain perils like floods or earthquakes. These policies also don't cover any possessions that belong to roommates or visitors who don't live inside your home, nor will they cover specific high-value items like jewelry, high-end electronics, or musical instruments.
How long will it take to receive a claims payment?
The amount of time it will take you to receive a payment for your claim depends on what items are included in your claim and whether you're receiving a cash value settlement or reimbursement for the replacement cost of your items.
Why might my insurance provider deny my claim?
Unfortunately, there are instances in which insurance companies deny claims. Typically this happens if your claim is less than your deductible, the damage isn't covered, or you waited too long to file your claim. Your claim may also be denied if you don't provide enough documentation or the damage falls under your landlord's homeowners policy.