One of my Dallas clients called me two weeks ago. She’d heard a heavy crash the previous night which startled her. She conducted a quick review of the interior of her home but did not find the source of the noise so she went on to bed curious about what she’d heard. Her question was answered the next morning when she ventured outside; a tree had been blown over onto her home.
Like most client calls I receive, the first question most ask is should they file a home claim? Texas law is pretty clear about this; I can neither tell a client to file a claim nor can I tell them to not file a claim. In moments like this, I believe it’s important to provide my clients with the information they need to help them make that decision.
- I first provide the client with their home policy number, the amount of their deductible, and the phone number for the claims department.
- From there, I then help them outline a course of action.
In this client’s case, there were two things that needed to be done, removing the tree and repairing the roof. We both called tree service and roofing companies, and she picked the ones with whom she’d talked. The tree service company would come out the next morning followed by the roofing company.
I suggested my client take pictures of the tree and the roof from the ground. In cases where a tree has fallen onto a house, the pictures are helpful to the claims process as the tree may be removed before an adjustor is able to visit the home owner. These pictures help the adjuster visually reconstruct what happened. Having the tree removed allows the home owner to determine if the tree pierced the decking under the shingles which could lead to a leak from rainwater and increase the amount of the claim.
I also instructed my client to keep all invoices for the work done. If the total amount exceeded her deductible, she’d know if she should proceed with the claim. As it turned out, the cost of removing the tree exceeded my client’s deductible so she called the insurance company and started the claim process.
Once the tree was removed, the roofer was able to provide the home owner with an accurate estimate to repair the roof. He then procured shingles that matched her existing shingles and began repairing the roof the following day. The adjustor arrived while the roofer was repairing the damaged area of roof. Her claim was processed quickly and smoothly due to the steps my client took following our discussion. This was helped with the copies of the estimates, the tree removal invoice, and the pictures she’d taken and she was paid a few days later.
There are three lessons we can learn from this client’s experience.
- Have a conversation with your agent when possible. This can be extremely helpful in determining what actions to take and gathering the information needed to help you make a decision whether to file a claim or not.
- Secure your home from further damage. For this client, it meant removing the tree from the roof and having it covered until the roofer could repair it. In the case of a water leak, it may mean turning off the water and having a restoration service vacuum up the water and start the drying out process until a plumber can repair the leak.
- Document your efforts. Great record keeping only helps you in the claim process and can include pictures, video (smart phones are so very helpful), receipts, and estimates.
What have you experienced and how did you respond? Share your story, suggestions, and questions with us in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page. We’ll all learn something from each other.