You've been paying your insurance premiums for years, and
when it comes time to actually file a claim, you should theoretically
be able to fill out the paperwork and wait for your reimbursement
check to arrive.
Filing an insurance claim? There are time limits on
how long you're covered after an event, so don't delay
sending in the paperwork.
Of course, what's simple in theory is quite complex in reality.
Insurance companies, despite their altruistic ads and slogans,
do not want to pay you for anything if they can avoid it.
Key Tips to Get Your Insurance Claim Approved
The following factors will improve your claim's chance of
File the claim quickly. Insurance companies say
they want claims filed "as soon as possible,"
which usually translates to mean within 30 days. However,
the sooner you file, the better.
Know what's covered. Before filing a claim, it's
essential that you know what's covered by your policy
and what the deductibles are.
Document everything you can. If the claim is for
an auto accident, take photos as soon as possible. If
it's for your home, take photos of the damage (and, even
better, take photos/video of your home prior to the damage
so you have something to compare against).
Make sure everything is accurate. When filling
out paperwork, make sure you have the details correct,
as mistakes or inconsistencies can cause your claim to
be denied or delayed.
Contact your state insurance department. If you
feel it's taking longer than is reasonable for your claim
to be processed, or if you have questions about settling
your claim, contact
your state insurance department for help.
Tips for Filing Auto, Health and Homeowner's Insurance
If you've made a lot of small claims in the past, you
may be better off not reporting a minor fender-bender.
Why? Insurance companies are known to raise premiums
and even cancel polices for people who file a lot of
Auto, health and homeowner's insurance represent three of
the largest insurance categories among Americans. If you must
file a claim, keep in mind these important tips:
For health insurance claims, often the doctor's office
will submit the claim for you. However, claims are often
denied because of small errors in filing (such as duplicates
being filed), technicalities or mistakes (in your health
insurance ID, for instance). If a claim is denied, ask
your doctor to check
the diagnostic and procedure codes for accuracy. If
it is still denied, you can appeal the denial, a process
that involves asking your insurance company to reconsider
accidents that involve a collision with another party,
don't admit fault at the scene or offer to pay for damages,
both of which could impact your insurance coverage. Meanwhile,
keep a copy of the police report, and be sure to find
out the other party's insurance information before leaving
the scene. As soon as possible, write down your detailed
recollection of what happened.
Get a second opinion. Whether repairs are needed
for your home or automobile, get a couple of estimates
to be sure you have an accurate measure of how much the
damages will cost.
Make small repairs, but not permanent ones. If
your home is damaged, most insurance policies will cover
small temporary repairs that are necessary to ensure your
safety (or the home's). However, do not begin any major,
permanent repair projects until you've heard from your
insurance company. Be sure to save all receipts for every
small repair you make.
When Not to File Insurance Claims
That said, there are times when you may be better off not
filing a claim at all. This is particularly true of auto and
homeowner's insurance, when filing a claim can result in an
increase in your premiums.
According to experts, if the claim is small (less than $1,000
after the deductible) you may want to just pay for the repairs
on your own. This is especially true if you've filed any small
claims in the last few years, as insurance companies may raise
your rates or even drop your insurance if you file too many
"Each company has different procedures, but generally
if you file a lot of small claims that can be problematic,"
said Jeanne Salvatore, vice president of consumer affairs
for Insurance Information Institute in a CNNMoney.com article.
"Statistically, most people only file a claim every 8
to 10 years, so if you're filing more than that you stand
Other instances when it's best not to file a claim are when
maintenance problems on your end, such as a leaky pipe, may
have caused the damage.
Further, just inquiring about a claim can count against you.
In some circumstances, insurance agents are required to report
inquiries about claims (even if you don't end up filing the
claim), so always ask if the information will be reported
before you turn to your agent for help.
to Do & Know if You Are in an Auto Accident (Includes
a Checklist Everyone Should Print Out)
10 Dumbest Everyday Mistakes People Make With Their Money