Every day we read about fires, floods and other tragedies that occur. They seem to be so prevalent, now than ever before. The old notion that “it can’t happen to my family” is not the best approach to being ready if you are faced with a claim. Preparation is the key to readiness in the world of insurance. These five tips can easily be implemented just in case:

1. Check your coverage now – not after a catastrophic event for your family. Know and ask in writing if all your insurance needs are covered and your financial limits are sufficient. A phone call to your agent or broker can start the process, but at the conclusion of the process confirm any advice or adjustments in writing, and save it in your insurance file. Policies and important correspondence can be imaged and saved in the cloud so it’s retrievable if a big loss occurs. Ask your child or grandchild how to do this if you do not understand the cloud storage and retrieval system.

2. Video your belongings and save in the cloud. – Use your smart phone to video your home, contents, boats, etc. Talk about the items in the viewfinder as you go. If there are expensive personal items, note their worth and ask your agent or broker if such items need to be “scheduled”---detailed with agreed upon amounts. You pay a little extra on these items but you can then recover their actual value if lost. Most “personal property” items fall under a general category under most homeowner policies and may not be sufficient.

3. Scheduled items should be updated every 3-5 years with the assistance and input from your agent or broker. This step is easy to forget. Rings, watches, art, etc. can change in value. Again, confirm changes in writing.

4. Save receipts on large purchases. If you decide to upgrade the family flat screen television and surround sound system you can spend thousands in the process. The receipt shows the date, vendor, and amount paid. A fuzzy memory will not be treated the same by a claims advisor. A quick smartphone picture, saved to your cloud insurance file, will save hassle and uncertainty if lost in a fire, flood, etc. The same applies to all contents that you upgrade over time. If you spend the time and effort to shop, select and purchase a new dining room set, spend a little extra effort to photograph the receipt and save it. Also, if an add on or remodel of your home occurs tell your agent or broker to reassess the amount of coverage you select to be sure this improvement is recognized and included in your coverage.

5. Always tell the truth. Any misstatement about your lost property, their amount, how many … anything, can be a bases for your insurer to deny your whole claim. For example, saying you had three flat screens rather than two will cause the insurance company to deny your entire claim. It is easy to avoid by being truthful in all claims matters. Having gone through steps 1 through 4 above will help your memory and significantly improve your claims outcome and prevent even an innocent misstatement. This advice on being truthful is perhaps the most important. Do not pay years of premiums to be ultimately turned down at claim time because of a misstatement. Again, if the claim information you submit is not in writing, it did not exist if you get push back later by the insurer. Phone calls should always have a follow up email sent to confirm verbal exchanges. The claims representative is trained to take notes and memorialize the conversation in your claim file – you do the same and send them a copy asking that your memo be included with your claim. Lastly, be polite and courteous. Honey always gets better results than vinegar. 

At a time when you are compelled to assert an insurance claim you need all moving parts to come together. To help yourself, complete these easy steps to provide a smooth insurance claims process. Document every step in writing now to avoid headaches then.