Documenting Damage and Losses for Insurance Claims

 – October 21, 2019
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:

  • 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 Department of Banking and Insurance by calling 609-292-7272 or the Consumer Hotline at 1-800-446-7467.
Information provided by the Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters

Use IRS Publications 584 and 584b to document damage and losses. Access the forms at irs.gov/forms-instructions.

This Disaster Recovery Guide has been compiled from a variety of sources. It is intended as a source book and guide only. It is not a substitute for professional judgment or for research into authoritative professional literature. Although this manual is not authoritative, it will help guide you to authoritative sources.

Material contained within this guide should be augmented by, and used in accordance with, a certified public accountant's professional judgment. Your CPA can properly apply the tax laws and regulations to the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. For help with locating a CPA, visit findacpa.org.

The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants is not responsible for any claims arising as a result of this information or its usage.

This guide was updated in October 2018. Future users of this material are cautioned that some portions, particularly tax-related information, may become outdated.