How To File a Homeowners Claim and What Happens Next

Is your kitchen covered in black soot from a stove top fire? Did a tree crash through your roof during last night’s storm? After experiencing a home disaster, you know you need to file a homeowners claim with your insurance company. But how do you do that? Farm Bureau Insurance policyholders in Arkansas simply call 1-866-275-7322 to file a claim and begin the claim resolution process.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Homeowners insurance covers many unexpected scenarios. Your policy should cover your home and certain other structures on your property in the event of a fire, theft, or tornado. It typically covers damage caused by wind, smoke, hail or storm damage—except for damage caused by flooding or an earthquake. Homeowner policies cover vandalism, burst pipes and truly odd events, such as a car bursting through your living room window. Flooding and earthquakes are covered in stand-alone policies.

Before Filing a Claim

Document your property and household belongings. Keep an electronic record (a folder with digital photos) in the Cloud or on a hard drive somewhere other than your home. This record should contain photos of every room of your home, as well as of your most valuable possessions.

Maintain a home inventory list with all of your belongings, their purchase date, and their current value. If you make a major purchase, such as a new appliance or computer, file or save electronic copies of those receipts for as long as you are using the item.

Your home inventory should include big-ticket items, such as your washing machine, and less-expensive items, such as camping or fishing equipment. It should also include furniture, art, expensive items of clothing, electronics, gaming consoles, jewelry, family heirlooms, and fine china and silver. Keep electronic records of all appraisals for items such as antique jewelry, furniture and art. 

What to Do in the Event of Home Vandalism or a Break-In

Contact the police before contacting your insurance company. File a police report that documents damage to your property or missing property. This will support your claim of vandalism or theft and may even be necessary for your insurance company to process that claim.

What to Do if Damage is Caused by a Natural or Man-Made Disaster

  1. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Farm Bureau Insurance policyholders in Arkansas call 1-866-275-7322. You will immediately receive a claims number, and an adjuster will be assigned to assess your damage. No significant repairs should begin until the adjuster submits an estimate.
  2. Document all damage. Take photos before cleaning up any damage. Write down the date and time of the damage. Make a list of damaged items, the age of the damaged items, and the current value of the damaged items. Keep a copy of this list and provide the list to your claims adjuster. 
  3. Temporarily handle the damage. Don’t make any permanent repairs before your adjuster views the damage, unless you have written permission from your insurance company. After documenting the damage, you can take temporary steps to avoid further damage. Put a tarp over a damaged roof or plywood over a damaged door to keep out water and intruders. Move your possessions into another room, out of harm’s way. 
  4. Save your receipts. If you buy materials, such as tarp or wood, give those receipts to your adjuster. Your home may be so damaged that you have to stay in a hotel. Save the receipts from your hotel, and give them to your insurance adjuster. You may be reimbursed for this expense. 
  5. Save all receipts for the new items you buy to replace damaged items.

Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When Filing Claims

  1. Throwing away damaged appliances and household belongings. You will need to hang onto these items as proof of your loss, until you receive payment of your claim.
  2. Waiting to call your insurance company. The sooner you call, the sooner your home can be repaired.
  3. Making permanent repairs without the insurance company’s permission. If you make repairs before the insurance adjuster has assessed your damage, you may not receive pay-out for that damage. In some cases, your insurance may allow you to hire someone to make emergency repairs before the adjuster visits. Your insurance company may also financially compensate you for making the repairs yourself. However, you should clear all permanent repairs in writing with your insurance company before proceeding.

Handling of Claim Payments

Payment for the damaged contents to your home and any off-property living expenses incurred will be made directly to you. Payment for structural damage may be made to both you and your mortgage lender, if you are financing your home.

Want to Make Sure You’re Fully Covered?

Know what your policy covers and if you need additional coverage to keep your most valuable items safe. Talk to an agent with Farm Bureau Insurance in Arkansas today.