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When to File a Home Insurance Claim and How to Do It

By the Mercury Team

With home ownership comes a sense of pride and joy.. However, it also introduces many new responsibilities, including handling homeowners insurance claims. Whether it’s damage from a hailstorm, a sudden plumbing disaster, or the aftermath of a burglary, knowing when and how to file a claim can affect how quickly and effectively you can recover from an unexpected setback.

Common Homeowners Insurance Claims

What is covered in homeowners insurance? Homeowners insurance is designed to provide financial protection against various losses and damages to your home and possessions, as well as liability coverage. These are the most common types of property damage claims homeowners usually file:

  • Wind and hail damage
  • Water damage from burst pipes, roof leaks, etc.
  • Fire and smoke damage
  • Lightning damage
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Damage from snow and ice
  • Damage from falling objects

What Is Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance covers a wide range of potential damages and liabilities, but there are several common exclusions that you should be aware of, including:

  • Flood damage
  • Earthquake damage
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Intentional damage
  • Certain high-value items — e.g., jewelry, antiques, fine art

For some of these exclusions, you should consider insurance endorsements. What are insurance endorsements? They’re additions or changes to a standard insurance policy that provide extra protection for areas not covered under the basic policy. You can purchase endorsements to cover high-value items or add coverage for events like floods or earthquakes that aren’t included in the standard policy. Discuss your specific needs with your insurance agent so they can help you understand what endorsements might benefit your home and lifestyle.

When to File a Home Insurance Claim

Knowing when to file a home insurance claim can be tricky. That said, there are situations where filing a claim is a good idea to ensure you get the financial help your policy provides. Here are a few key instances when you might want to consider filing a claim:

The Estimate Is More Than Your Deductible

When fixing your home or replacing your belongings is more than your deductible, you should file a claim. Your deductible is the amount you agree to pay from your pocket before your insurance coverage starts. For instance, if your deductible is $1,000 and the estimated repair cost is $5,000, your insurance company will pay for $4,000 of the repairs. If you didn’t file a claim, you would have to pay $5,000 out of pocket.

The Damage Is Covered and Extensive

Whether it’s severe weather, fire, or another catastrophic event, these incidents can cause extensive damage that can be financially overwhelming without insurance. If your home sustains this type of damage and it’s covered, file a claim so you don’t have to shoulder the financial burden.

You Have an Endorsement for the Damage

If the damage to your home is for something specifically covered by an endorsement you’ve added to your standard policy — like flood or earthquake coverage — be sure to file a claim. Endorsements are designed to extend your coverage to risks not included in the basic policy, and utilizing them when the relevant damage occurs ensures you make the most of your investments.

When Not to File a Home Insurance Claim

Here are some scenarios where you might consider handling the situation without involving your insurance company:

The Damage Is Minimal

If the damage to your property is minor and the repair costs are close to or below your deductible, filing a claim may not be financially beneficial, as you would likely pay for most of the repairs yourself anyway due to the deductible. Additionally, filing could potentially increase your future premiums.

Your Policy Excludes the Damage

If your policy specifically excludes the type of damage your property has sustained, there’s no reason to file a claim. Be sure to review your policy before filing a claim.

You Have Several Recent Claims

If you’ve filed several claims over a short period, filing another might not be a good idea unless it’s absolutely necessary. Multiple claims can lead to higher premiums and could even make it difficult to obtain insurance in the future. Insurers may view frequent claims as a risk factor, which could affect your relationship with them and your costs moving forward.

How to File a Home Insurance Claim

How does a homeowners insurance claim work? Following these steps can help ensure the home insurance claims process goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Contact Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance company or agent immediately after the damage occurs. You’ll need to complete and submit any required claim forms, which your insurance agent can provide and help you to understand.

2. Document Everything

When filing a claim, gather all the necessary documentation to support it. This includes taking pictures of the damage and keeping receipts for any related expenses. A complete and updated home inventory can also help simplify the process of proving the value of your damaged items.

3. Make Temporary Repairs

Make temporary repairs immediately to prevent further damage to your home. This could involve covering broken windows with plastic sheeting or placing a tarp over a leaky roof. Keep all receipts for materials purchased for these repairs, as these costs may be reimbursable under your policy if your claim is approved.

4. Prepare for the Adjuster’s Visit

An insurance adjuster will likely visit your home to assess the damage. Be ready for this visit by having all your documentation at hand and a list of damages to show. Answer the adjuster’s questions honestly and thoroughly to ensure they have all the information needed to process your claim.

5. Get Repair Estimates

Get repair or replacement estimates from reputable contractors to provide to your insurance company. Working with contractors in your insurer’s network can expedite the claims process. These contractors often have a direct line of communication with your insurance company, which can speed up approvals for repairs or additional claims for supplemental damage.

6. Receive Settlement Offer

When you receive the settlement offer from your insurance company, review it alongside your policy to ensure it’s fair and covers all agreed-upon damages. If the offer doesn’t meet your expectations based on the policy coverage, be prepared to negotiate or dispute the claim.


Filing a claim can be challenging, especially in the stressful aftermath of damage to your home. However, it’s important to remember that your insurance is there to help you recover and rebuild. Protecting your home is essential, and finding the right insurance partner is the first step towards ensuring peace of mind. Consider Mercury, which provides some of the most affordable homeowners insurance options without compromising coverage. We offer competitive homeowners insurance quotes that can be tailored to your needs and budget.

Contact us today for a fast, free quote!


What Are the Pros and Cons of Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim?

Pros of Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim:

  • Financial relief: Insurance can cover significant repair costs.
  • Quick restoration: Helps you repair damage swiftly, restoring normalcy.
  • Professional assessment: Ensures all damage is properly identified and addressed.

Cons of Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim:

  • Increased premiums: Your insurance rates may rise after a claim.
  • Deductibles: You must first cover the deductible, which can be costly.
  • Impact on future coverage: Frequent claims can affect your ability to secure favorable insurance terms in the future.
  • Time and effort: The process can be complex and time-consuming.

Does Home Insurance Go Up After a Claim?

Home insurance premiums often go up after a claim. When you file a claim, insurers may view you as a higher risk, which can lead to increased rates. The amount of the increase can depend on the nature and frequency of claims, the type of damage, and your overall claims history.

How Long Do Home Insurance Claims Take?

The time it takes to process a home insurance claim can vary, but generally, it takes anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The duration depends on the complexity of the damage, the thoroughness of the documentation provided, the speed of the insurance adjuster’s evaluation, and the workload of the claims department. It can take longer for more complex cases or during times of high claim volumes, such as after natural disasters.

What to Do When Homeowners Insurance Denies a Claim?

If your insurance company denies your claim, you should first review the denial letter to understand the specific reasons provided. Then, gather all relevant documentation and evidence supporting your claim. Next, contact your insurance company to discuss the denial and see if it can be resolved through clarification or additional information. If the issue isn’t resolved, consider filing an appeal with your insurer. As a last resort, consult an attorney or contact your state’s insurance commissioner’s office for further assistance.

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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