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A homeowners insurance claim starts the process of getting you reimbursed if your home or property is damaged by a covered peril. The process can be confusing, but breaking it down into clear steps can help.

To make sure your claim is successful, it is essential to follow key rules and procedures. That includes filing the claim as quickly as possible and documenting all of the damage.

Read on to learn more about homeowners insurance claims, how to file one and what to expect during the claims process.

Key Takeaways

  • Following a step-by-step procedure for filing a claim is the best way to make sure your claim is successful and is processed quickly.
  • It’s vital to file your claim as soon as possible after the loss and document all of the damage carefully.
  • An adjuster from the insurance company will be assigned to handle your claim, but you have the right to hire a public adjuster to work on your behalf.

How do I file a homeowners insurance claim?

Filing a claim is, in some ways, straightforward. You contact your insurance company and let the claims representative know about the damage, and they tell you what to do. However, there are some smaller steps along the way that can impact how a claim turns out.

Here are some ways to improve your chances of a successful claim: 

If your loss is because of a crime, call the police: The first step should be to call the police if a crime has been involved. This should be done before you phone your insurance company. Ask for a police report and the names of any officers involved with your case. In crime-related claims, the insurance company will require a police report.

Call your agent or insurance company: Tell your insurer what happened, and make sure you square away details such as how much time you have to file the claim, what forms you need to fill out, whether you need to get estimates for repair work, and how long the claims process will last.

Document the damage. Before you do anything else, photograph or videotape the damage as extensively as you can and make a list of damaged items. Do not throw out damaged items and keep the receipts from purchases you made during the repair process.

Make temporary repairs if necessary: You should make any temporary repairs that are required to avoid additional damage, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Fill out and file the proper forms: Complete and return these forms as quickly as you can. Typically, you will find the forms on your insurer’s website. But if you are unsure of where to get the forms – or just want to make sure you are filling out all the necessary forms — talk to your insurer to make sure you follow the proper procedures.

Prepare for your insurance adjuster’s visit: Your insurance company may send out an adjuster to examine the damage to your home. Prepare written notes about what happened, including the list of things damaged.

Keep receipts for additional living expenses: Your home may be so damaged that it is no longer habitable. If this is the case, you will need to relocate temporarily. Keep all receipts related to the relocation, including those for hotel fees, meals and other expenses.

How are homeowners insurance claims paid?

Once the adjuster has finished investigating, they will calculate an estimate of how much you should be paid to repair the damage. You’ll receive an official notice of the claim settlement amount in writing.

You can accept the adjuster’s recommendation or negotiate. The insurance company will pay you the actual cash value of the repairs first and pay the difference once the repairs are finished. 

Claims can be paid out in various ways. For example, if both your home and some of your personal contents were damaged, you will likely receive separate checks for each.

If your home is uninhabitable and you are temporarily living somewhere else, you may receive a third check for additional living expenses.

If you have a mortgage, your lender will also be listed on the check. You will have to endorse the check and send it on to the lender, which will then cash it and return the money to you to pay the contractors. Your lender may require some proof that work is being done before releasing all of the funds.

How long does it take for homeowners insurance to pay a claim?

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for your insurance claim to be paid out. State laws vary, with some states requiring insurers to pay out in what is deemed to be a “reasonable amount of time.”

Other states require insurers to acknowledge receipt of your claim between 10 and 30 days. They then have 40 days to accept or deny it.

If there is a lot of work to be done on the house, the final settlement may not be paid for a long time, as the insurer won’t be able to issue a final replacement cost check until the full cost of repairs is known.



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Where can I get a homeowners insurance claim form?

In many cases, you will be able to do so directly from the insurer’s website. In other cases, the insurer will mail some — or all — forms to you.

However, it is important that you follow your insurer’s rules, as they vary from company to company. So, speak with your agent to learn more about where to get a home insurance claim form and how to file it.

When to file a homeowners insurance claim

Homeowners insurance protects you from financial loss in the event of damage to your home or possessions. However, filing a claim can be lengthy and complicated, and it’s important to ensure that you have a valid claim before proceeding. 

You should file a claim when:

The cost of repairs is more than the deductible: You should file a claim if the cost of the repairs is significantly higher than your deductible. For example, if your home is damaged in a severe storm and the repairs cost $5,000, and your deductible is $1,000, you should file a claim. 

If the damage is extensive: When your home has been greatly damaged and becomes uninhabitable, it’s important to file an insurance claim.

When not to file a homeowners insurance claim

There are times it does not pay to file a claim. If your damages are around $800 and your deductible is $1,000, there is no point in filing a claim, as you won’t receive any payment. Not only could the claim increase your rates, but your homeowners insurance is likely to report any claim you make to private nationwide databases such as the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE).

That claim will be a part of your insurance history – and will be visible to any future insurance company that you do business with. If you have a history of claims, insurers may charge you higher premiums when it’s time to renew your policy.

What are the most common homeowners insurance claims?

Some home insurance claims are more common than others. Regardless of where you live and what type of home you own, certain risks are always higher than others.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the most common homeowners insurance claims for property damage are:

Cause of damagePercentage of losses
Wind and hail39%
Fire and lightning25%
Water damage and freezing23%
All other property damage9%

Your homeowners insurance policy will not cover some weather-related damages. For example, you need a separate flood insurance policy to cover damage from floods. Some homeowners may also need to purchase a separate wind policy to protect themselves from damage related to hurricanes. You also may need an endorsement on your policy to cover damages from weather events.

Ask your insurance agent if you are unclear about which weather-related events are covered and which are not.

Can a homeowners insurance company deny a claim?

A homeowners insurance company can deny a claim for a number of reasons. For example, if the policyholder does not have the right coverage, the company may refuse to pay out the claim. 

Sometimes, homeowners insurance companies deny claims if they believe the policyholder is at fault for the damage. For instance, if a policyholder fails to maintain their home or doesn’t take steps to prevent damage, the company may deny their claim. 

It’s important to carefully read your policy and ensure you understand the terms and conditions before filing a claim. Otherwise, you risk having your claim denied.

What to do if your homeowners insurance claim is denied

There are a number of reasons why this may happen, but you can appeal the denial if you disagree with the decision. 

The denial may be due to a simple misunderstanding that can be easily rectified. If you have any questions about why your claim was denied, call your insurance company and ask to speak to a representative. They should be able to explain the reason for the denial and how you can appeal it.

You may need to hire an attorney if you still don’t understand why your claim was denied after speaking with a representative. An attorney who specializes in insurance claims can help you navigate the appeals process and potentially get your claim paid. 

Shivani Gite contributed to this story.

Frequently asked questions about home insurance claims

What are some important tips to know when filing a homeowners insurance claim?

Here are some important home insurance claim tips:

  • Your insurance company will decide how much to pay you after you file a claim
  • The better you document the claim, the better the odds you will get the payout you deserve
  • Take pictures and video of the damage
  • Create a detailed list of the things you have lost
  • Maintain receipts related to both damaged items and any costs associated with the claim

What can you do if you’re not happy with the settlement amount?

It’s possible you won’t agree with the claims adjuster’s settlement amount. If that’s the case, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) urges you not to agree to anything that makes you uncomfortable. Instead, talk to your agent and try to find a resolution. 

You can consider other measures, such as

  • Hiring a public adjuster to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf
  • Contacting your state department of insurance to ask about your options
  • Hiring an attorney

In some cases, having your contractor meet with the insurance adjuster can move things in your favor.

Do homeowners insurance rates go up after a claim?

Homeowners insurance rates may go up after a single homeowners claim. But how much claims increase your home insurance rates depends on the type of claim you make and its size.

In most cases, a single claim should not cause your rate to rise, although certain types of claims — such as one for a dog bite — could quickly result in higher rates.

If you have made multiple claims in recent years, your rate is considerably more likely to rise.

Can a home insurance company drop you for filing a claim?

No, your insurance company can’t drop you and decide not to renew your policy in retaliation for filing a claim. However, if you make too many claims within a short period of time, the company can decide not to renew your coverage. It may also nonrenew your coverage after a claim if, in the process of investigating the claim, it discovers that you were negligent or in some other way in violation of your insurance contract.


Insurance Information Institute.“Understanding the insurance claims payment process.” Accessed April 2024.

Insurance Information Institute.“ Facts + Statistics: Homeowners and renters insurance. ” Accessed April 2024.

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Chris Kissell
Contributing Researcher


Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.