Insurance claim officer talks with customer.

How Does a Homeowners Insurance Claim Work?

By the Mercury Team

Knowing how to file a homeowners insurance claim when the unexpected happens can alleviate some of the stress that often follows discovering damage to your home or property. In this blog, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on filing a homeowners insurance claim and provide information on common challenges, tips for a smooth process, and guidance for appealing the insurance company’s decision.

Step 1. Assess and Identify Damage

The first step in the homeowners insurance claim process is to assess and identify the damage or incident that has occurred. This could range from structural damage caused by a natural disaster to theft or vandalism affecting your personal property. Carefully evaluate the extent of the damage and consider whether it’s covered under the terms of your homeowners insurance policy. It’s also essential to document all damages thoroughly, including taking photos or videos, as this will be valuable evidence when you proceed with your claim.

Step 2. Contact Insurance Company

After identifying and documenting the damage, the next step is to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance companies have a 24/7 claim hotline, online portals, or mobile apps where you can report a claim. You’ll need to provide your policy number and details about the incident, including when it occurred and the type of damage or loss incurred. Make sure to report the claim promptly, as some insurance policies have a stipulated time frame for filing a claim following an incident.

Step 3. Provide Necessary Information and Documentation

After your initial contact with the insurance company, you must provide detailed information and documentation to support your claim. This includes:

  • Proof of damage: Submit the photos or videos you took of the damage. This visual evidence is vital for the adjuster’s assessment.
  • Inventory of lost or damaged items: Provide a detailed list of damaged or stolen items, including their estimated value and any available receipts or proof of purchase. This documentation is essential for determining the compensation for personal property losses.
  • Additional documentation: Depending on the nature of your claim, you may need to submit additional documents, such as police reports, for theft or vandalism.

Step 4. Work with the Claims Adjuster

Once you’ve reported your claim and provided all necessary documentation, the insurance company will typically assign a claims adjuster to your case. The adjuster’s primary role is determining the extent of the insurance company’s liability, which they do by:

  • Reviewing your policy details and the documents you’ve provided.
  • Inspecting the damage to your property and bringing in experts if needed — e.g., structural engineers or mold specialists.
  • Writing a report summarizing the findings and outlining the estimated costs for repairing or replacing the damaged property.

Throughout this process, maintain open communication with your adjuster. If you have any concerns or believe some damage has been overlooked, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns. After all, this process aims to ensure you receive the compensation you need to recover from the incident.

Step 5: Claims Processing

Your insurance company will begin processing your claim after the adjuster assesses and inspects the damage. During this process, your insurer will:

  • Review your insurance policy: They examine your policy’s specific terms, conditions, and coverages to determine how they apply to your claim.
  • Determine coverage eligibility: Based on the details of your policy and the nature of the damage, the company will decide whether the incident is covered and to what extent.
  • Estimate the cost of repairs or replacement: The insurance company will use the adjuster’s report, along with any estimates from contractors or other professionals, to calculate the cost of fixing the damage or replacing lost property.

Step 6: Resolution and Settlement

After estimating the cost of repairs or replacement, you will receive a claim settlement offer from the insurance company. If you agree to a settlement, the insurance company will then finalize the claim. This finalization includes completing any required paperwork and issuing the payment for the agreed settlement amount. Depending on the situation, the payment may be made directly to you or, in some instances, to the service provider or contractor.

Common Challenges and Issues

Navigating a homeowners insurance claim can sometimes present challenges and issues that may complicate the process. Understanding these potential hurdles can prepare you for how to handle them. Here are some common challenges homeowners might face during the insurance claim process:

Disputes over Coverage or Claim Amount

If you disagree with the settlement offer, you can negotiate. You may need to provide additional documentation or evidence to support your claim for a higher amount. This could include independent repair estimates, photos of the damage, or receipts for lost or damaged property. Keep in mind that negotiation can take time, but it’s important to ensure you’re adequately compensated for your loss.

Delays in Claims Processing

How long do home insurance claims take? Generally, you can expect payment for a claim anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. However, claims processing can sometimes experience delays, extending the time it takes to resolve your claim. Delays can be caused by various factors, including a high volume of claims (often following a major disaster), incomplete documentation, or the need for additional assessments.

Denial of Claims

Insurance companies may deny claims because the cause of the damage is not covered under your policy, the damage is less than your deductible, or they believe the claim is fraudulent.

Tips for a Smooth Claims Process

You can employ several strategies to ensure a smoother experience and improve the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Here are some tips to help you navigate the claims process efficiently:

  • Understand your policy coverage and limitations: Familiarize yourself with the terms, conditions, coverage limits, and deductibles. This knowledge helps set realistic expectations and equips you to advocate for yourself effectively if disputes arise. Consult with your insurance agent or a professional to clarify any confusing aspects.
  • Document damages and losses thoroughly: Thorough documentation is your best ally in the claims process. Take extensive photos and videos of the damage as soon as possible after the incident. Maintain a detailed inventory of damaged or lost items, including their value and any proof of purchase.
  • Communicate effectively with the insurance company: Good communication helps prevent misunderstandings and expedite your claim’s resolution. Keep a record of all interactions, including names, dates, and details of conversations. If you encounter challenges or delays, don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification.

Appeals and Dispute Resolution

Even with meticulous preparation and a thorough understanding of your homeowners insurance policy, there may be instances where you disagree with the insurance company’s decision regarding your claim. Here are some tips for challenging the insurer’s decision and seeking a fair resolution.

  • Review the insurance company’s decisions: Before initiating an appeal or dispute, thoroughly review the insurer’s decision regarding your claim. This review will help you pinpoint the aspects of the claim that must be addressed and form the basis of your appeal or dispute.
  • File an appeal: If you believe the insurance company’s decision is incorrect or unfair, the next step is to formally challenge it. Insurance companies usually have an established appeals process that you can follow. This typically involves submitting a written appeal letter outlining your concerns and reasons for disagreement with the decision.
  • Seek legal assistance: If the dispute cannot be resolved through the insurer’s internal appeals process, consider seeking legal assistance. A lawyer specializing in insurance claims can provide valuable guidance and represent your interests during negotiations with the insurance company.


As you consider the best ways to protect your home, it’s important to partner with an insurance provider that understands your needs and offers comprehensive support throughout the claims process. Mercury is committed to providing the coverage you need to navigate unexpected life events. With a dedication to excellent customer service, we’re here to help you understand the benefits of home insurance and ensure you’re well-prepared to handle any situation with confidence.

Contact us today for a fast, free quote!

Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

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