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How to File a Home Insurance Claim Hero image

How to File a Home Insurance Claim

Unexpected damage to your home or personal property can be stressful. Knowing the key steps when filing a claim can help make the process a bit easier.

3 steps in the home insurance claim process

We hope you’ll never have to file a claim. If you do, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the claims process.

STEP 1. Document everything

When it’s safe to do so, make a complete list of all damaged, destroyed or stolen items. Remember these tips:

  • If possible, attach proofs of purchase, receipts, police reports, owner’s manuals and warranties for lost or damaged items.

  • Take photos of any damaged or destroyed items. Review your files for photos of any stolen items.

  • Keep notes and be as detailed as possible when documenting damage and providing information.

  • Keep damaged items unless they are dangerous or pose a health hazard. Confirm with your insurer before disposing of damaged property.

  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup.

  • Review and update your home inventory list after you experience a loss.

STEP 2. Contact your insurance representative

You must report an accident or claim to your insurance representative and provide complete, accurate details as soon as possible following a theft, accident or property damage. Most insurance companies have a 24-hour claims service.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Always keep your insurer’s contact information handy.

  • Be as detailed as possible regarding the circumstances and any subsequent damage.

  • In the event your home is unfit to live in, ask your insurer if you are eligible for the Additional Living Expenses (ALE) that are covered under your policy and for how long.

    • Most personal property insurance policies (homeowner, condominium unit owner and tenant) cover the cost of alternate accommodations and living expenses for people whose home has become unliveable after an insured loss. There may also be limited coverage for mass evacuation under certain circumstances.

    • ALE covers anything over and above your normal expenses. For example, if your temporary accommodations doesn’t have laundry facilities and you have to use a laundromat, those expenses may also qualify. However, ALE does not cover all of your expenses while you are displaced; it covers your increased cost of living as a result of being displaced.

  • Keep all receipts and invoices for additional living expenses following your loss.

  • After filing your claim with your insurer, a claims specialist or adjuster will contact you. They will review the loss circumstances, examine the documents you provide and explain the next steps.

STEP 3. File a proof of loss if requested

When you file your claim, your insurance company will ask you to complete a “proof of loss” form. This form lists all damaged or lost property or items with the value or cost of the damage or loss.

You must sign and swear the statements you make are true. If any of the statements are untrue, your insurance may be voided.

Typically, a proof of loss must be completed and returned to your insurance company within 30 days. Your insurance representative or claims adjuster can answer any specific questions you might have.

Getting things back to normal

  • Review your policy carefully.

    • Ensure you’re familiar with specified deductibles; coverage limits and exclusions.

    • Insurance companies generally offer three options for your damaged or stolen items: repair, replace or reimburse.

    • Know that your policy requires you to act to limit any further damage.

    • You can use a contractor or supplier of your choice to do any repairs. Your insurer will estimate the damage. If your contractor charges a different price, you would be responsible for the difference.

    • Most insurers have preferred vendors, contractors or suppliers who respect the estimates and specifications agreed upon.