INDIANA (WEHT) – The Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) has some tips to help in the event your home is damaged or destroyed by a covered disaster.

A press release says homeowners insurance includes a type of property insurance that pays for losses and damages to your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, weather, theft, or another covered disaster. When those events happen, you will need to file a claim.

What to consider before filing a claim

IDOI says before reporting the property damage to your home, find out what your deductible is. If the damage is minor, it might be better to pay for the repairs out of pocket. If you believe the damage will cost more than your deductible to repair, or there is a lot of damage, you may want to file a claim.  

IDOI says if you decide to file a claim, it is important to tell your insurance company right away. The amount of time you have to report your claim varies by state. The steps include:

  • Make a list of all your damaged property.  
  • Take photos and videos of damage.  
  • Contact your insurance company or agent with your policy number, name, address, and phone number.  
  • Explain what happened and describe the extent of the property damage. 

What if your home has flood damage

A press release says flood damage is usually not covered by a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy. If you have a separate flood insurance policy, remember to include a copy of the policy and the contact details for the insurer on your list. Flood is a covered event in most auto insurance policies.

IDOI says flood insurance is a separate coverage you can buy through an agent or insurer participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In order to qualify for flood insurance, the home or business must be in a community that has joined the NFIP. If your community does not participate in the NFIP, contact your licensed insurance agent to ask about private flood insurance.

A press release says it is important to note that the NFIP insurance policy will typically have a 30-day waiting period unless a policy is bought at the same time as a newly purchased home.

Know the difference between Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost

IDOI says Actual Cash Value is the cost to replace your damaged, stolen or destroyed personal property with new property of like kind and quality, minus depreciation. It is important to account for depreciation when considering Actual Cash Value coverage. Keep in mind that the cost of the insured property will be valued at a lower amount based on wear and tear and the age of the property. You will, however, be reimbursed for the actual cash value of your property at the time of the claim, minus your deductible.

A press release says Replacement Cost is the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. In other words, it is what you would pay to replace your property at today’s cost. Many insurance companies require homes to be insured for at least 80 percent of their replacement value. With 80 percent coverage, the insurance company will pay losses in full, less any deductible, up to the face amount of your policy.

Things you should do to prepare

IDOI says for people to take an inventory. Go through every room in your home; write down and take pictures or videos of everything in the room. Do this before a disaster strikes. The NAIC’s free Home Inventory App will allow you to take pictures and document your items by room and category. You can download the app from the App Store and Google Play.

IDOI says if you don’t want to use an app, store your inventory in a secure place at another location, such as your workplace, a safe deposit box, a relative’s house, or online.  

  • Review and update your inventory every year, including your pictures and videos. 
  • Update your inventory when you buy new items.  
  • Keep receipts with your inventory for all repairs and new items you buy for proof if you have to file a claim.  

A press release says to work from memory if your property was destroyed and you have no records.  

  • Review photos taken inside your home. That may help you make the list.  
  • Search online retailers to help estimate costs.  

IDOI says to consider getting appraisals for high-value items, such as jewelry, antiques, electronics, collectibles, and guns, and scheduling them under the policy. Most homeowners policies only have fixed limits and fixed causes of loss for these items. The limits are minimal to the value of some of these items. If you want to have valuable items properly covered, they need to be specifically scheduled on the policy and backed up by a current and valid appraisal.

IDOI says to collect the 24-hour contact information for your insurance agent and insurer and enter it as a contact on your smartphone. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, insurer and insurance agent’s phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if the company or agent has an emergency information hotline.

A press release says people should know how to work with contractors. Don’t feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you aren’t comfortable with when it comes to repairs. It might help to have your contractor meet with you and the insurance adjuster.  

How the IDOI can help you with a complaint about a claim

IDOI says if the insurance company has not followed the terms and conditions of your policy, you may submit a complaint with the IDOI Consumer Services Division. The IDOI may take corrective action against a company if actions are in violation of a statute, regulation, or policy the IDOI enforces. Visit this website to learn more about the complaint process.