REBUILDING AFTER A LOSS:
Managing the Claims
The process of
reconstructing your home following a loss can be long and laborious.
Often before you can begin rebuilding, you have to navigate the
insurance claims process. We know that consumers are often confused and
stressed by the claims process, and offer this summary to help manage
- Call the company or visit a mobile claims
center to start your claim. If you cannot locate the company or
agent’s number, call the Consumer Services Division at
- While your first instinct following a
disaster may be to start cleaning up, it is important for your insurer
to have an accurate account of the destruction. Before moving any
debris or removing damaged belongings, make sure to take photos or
video of the damage. Make a list to document these losses. If possible,
save damaged items for the representative from your insurance company
to review. You should also take reasonable steps to avoid further
damage to your home.
- Even following a major disaster, most
insurance companies have a time requirement for filing a claim. When
calling to report the loss, have your policy information handy, along
with current contact information and your home inventory, if you have
one. Ask if your insurer plans to waive or extend claim-filing
- A homeowners policy only covers damage to
your home and its contents, and a renter’s policy only covers
belongings. If your car was damaged, a separate claim will need to be
filed with the auto insurer.
- A typical homeowners or renter’s policy
does not cover flood damage. If you have a policy with the National
Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), contact your agent or insurer to file a
claim for that policy as well. Damage from a storm surge is considered
There are two types
of claims adjusters: company adjusters, who are sent by your insurance
company and public adjusters, who are independent contractors.
- Company adjusters are direct employees of your insurance
company. In most cases a company adjuster is going to be the first
person to survey the damage to your home. A company adjuster will not
charge you for their assessment.
- Public adjusters are not allowed in Arkansas.
- After you have filed your claim, the
insurance company will arrange to send a claims adjuster to your home
to assess the damage. The company adjuster will want to see all the
damaged items you have removed from the home and any photos or video
you have of things you removed to make the home safe. Generally, the
more information you can provide the adjuster about the loss, the
faster the claim can be settled.
- The company adjuster will walk through your
home to look at the damage. If your home was damaged in a storm they
may also want to look at the outside of your home, your roof or your
- The claims adjuster will provide the
documentation and their assessment of the loss to your insurance
company to help determine your claims settlement.
- If your insurance company is not responding
promptly to your claim, do not hesitate to call the claims department
and find out if an adjuster has been assigned. Verify that they have
your correct contact details, especially if you have had to evacuate
your home. Call the Consumer Services Division at 800-852-5494 if you
do not think your insurance company is responding quickly enough, or
completing a reasonable investigation of your claim.
- If there are disagreements between you, the
insurer and the adjuster, first try to resolve them with your insurer.
Do not feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you are not
comfortable with. It might help to have your contractor meet with you
and the insurance adjuster. If you cannot reach an agreement with the
company, call the Consumer
Services Division at 800-852-5494.
- When it comes to paying your claim, you may
receive multiple checks. The first will likely be an emergency advance
on the larger payment. The payment for the contents or personal
property will be made out to you. However, if there is a mortgage on
your home, the payment for structural damage may be payable to you and
your mortgage holder. Lenders may put that money into an escrow account
and pay for the repairs as the work is completed.
- If the contractor finds hidden damage that
was not discovered in the original assessment, contact your insurance
company to resolve the difference. The adjuster and the contractor may
choose to meet at the house to review the newly discovered damage. If
you cannot resolve the difference, contact the Consumer Services Division at
800-852-5494 to see what recourse
- Even after you have settled your claim, if
you think of items that were not in your initial loss list, contact
your insurance company. Unless it has paid the entire limit for the
coverage of those types of items, it is possible the company will cover
- In major disasters federal agencies provide
grants and low-interest loans to assist with recovery. Check with the
local disaster center for more
information if your loss exceeds the insured value of your home.
If you have
questions or are confused about your insurance coverage, contact the
Consumer Services Division at (800) 852-5494 or (501) 371-2640.
To find more
information about filing a flood claim with the NFIP here.
insurance or who find they do not have enough coverage for the damages
their home sustained can register for FEMA assistance here.