If you suffer a disaster such as a total loss from wildfire and need to claim on your insurance, consider these three principles:
Get a copy of your policies and read them.
Insurance always starts with a written policy, so the first thing to do when you get ready to make a claim is to get a copy of any policy that might cover your damaged property and read it through from front to back.
If you do not have your insurance policy forms because they have been lost, destroyed or are otherwise unavailable, you will need to obtain a policy reconstruction from the insurance company. Ask your agent or go directly to the insurance company’s policy services department. If you cannot remember who your insurance company is, you will need to do a little detective work. Start with your checking account. A check of your bank records may well lead you to any insurer that could provide insurance coverage for your damaged property.
Check your coverages.
Your insurance policy covers certain types of losses and excludes protection for others. That’s why it is important to get a copy of the contract right at the start.
A problem that often occurs after a catastrophic loss is the damaged property is not fully insured. Where a broker or broker advises you professionally on appropriate coverage or binds coverage based on their own professional expertise, you may have a claim for professional negligence if the property is not insured to its full value.
Watch out for Time Limits
Property insurance policies generally have their own deadlines, known as “limitation periods,” and the period during which legal action must be filed to enforce the contract is frequently shorter than the period applicable to a simple written contract.
If in doubt, consult a lawyer about the time limits for your claim. Be proactive. Once you have suffered a loss, a clock ticks somewhere that could limit your ability to claim back the insurance benefits.