Documenting Damage and Losses for Insurance Claims
When confronted with damages and losses, it's important to follow some "do’s and don’ts" if you hope to take full advantage of your insurance coverage. Here are some basic guidelines:
Information provided by the Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters
- Don't alter the condition of any damaged property until an insurance adjuster inspects it. You should, however, make necessary emergency repairs to prevent further damage.
- Take pictures of all damages, including your home's exterior, car, basement, roof and yard.
- Document all items and property that were damaged or destroyed. Note the cost, brand, model and date of purchase. Include any available receipts and pictures of the items (even if the item is in the background of a family photo, for example).
- Contact your insurance company as soon as you have all the information related to your situation.
- Ask a contractor to estimate the costs of repairs. Provide this information to your insurance adjuster. (If you do not know who can provide the type of work you need, ask your adjuster for references.)
- Record all expenses you incur as a result of property damage, including the cost of temporary repairs, hotel accommodations and meal expenses.
- If you are unhappy with the settlement you receive for your claim, contact the insurance company. If you do not receive satisfactory results, you may contact the Complaints Division at the New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance by calling 609-292-7272 or their Consumer Hotline 800-446-7467.
Use IRS Publications 584 and 584-B to document loss and damage on personal-use property and related to business, respectively. Access the forms at irs.gov/forms-instructions.