Homeowners insurance claims

When you're a homeowner, you need to take steps to protect your most valuable asset - your property. Most know that having a home insurance policy is the best way to take care of financial vulnerabilities in the event a home is damaged or items are stolen. But not all insurance providers and policies are equal.

If something were to happen to your home, such as a fire or damage caused by a severe storm, you would likely need to file an insurance claim to help pay for repairs. Getting approved and receiving funds from your insurance company are essential to return to your normal life after filing a claim, especially if the damage is extensive and the repairs are expensive. Without the right service from your provider, there's a chance you could be down thousands of dollars until your claim goes through.

When you shop for homeowners insurance, there's a good chance you checked out prices and coverage options, and maybe also perused some customer reviews. But without the chance to personally test how the provider handles a major claim, it can be impossible to know if your insurance company can perform well and help you prevent major losses.

Here are some tips from homeowners polled by Consumer Reports to make your insurance processing experience fast and smooth when you need to file a claim:

Select a top insurer
There are many different insurance companies on the market that you can choose from for your auto, renters or homeowners insurance. While the price of an insurance premium may be a big driver for your decision to purchase one policy over another, don't skimp on looking at customer review and satisfaction. According to Consumer Reports, survey respondents rated Amica, USAA and Auto-Owners with higher satisfaction levels than most other insurers. Take your time while shopping for a homeowners insurance policy by comparing more than just prices.

Be prepared
When you need to file a claim after your pipes burst or there's significant damage to your roof, you need to be prepared for the insurance claims adjuster and be ready for a fight, if necessary. Some insurance companies may try to get out of paying your claim if they can identify where your coverage ends. For this reason, you should go through your policy and ask your agent about exclusions, minimum coverage requirements and anything else in the fine print. Doing this before you experience a big loss is essential, as you may need to purchase additional insurance such as flood protection.

Find a good contractor now
If your home experiences significant damage after a major storm, you probably aren't the only household in town who will need repairs done. However, finding a contractor after a disaster can be difficult, and you could end up with someone who is less trustworthy. If you have some work you need done on your home before any loss happens, you will be better prepared when you need to call a contractor in an emergency if you've already worked with someone.

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