What to Expect from Insurance Adjusters?

When you experience a fire claim, an insurance adjuster will usually be sent to your home to assess the damage and create an estimate for the repair/replacement of your home and personal belongings. It is the insurance adjuster’s job to complete a walk-through of the home, inspect any and all damage and come to a reasonable estimate that honours the insurance companies’ duties outlined in your policy, while making fiscally responsible decisions.

What do Insurance Adjusters Look for After a Fire?

When an insurance adjuster arrives at your home, they will need to conduct a complete walk-through of the house, paying attention to all areas that experienced damage. They will assess everything from damage to floors, ceilings and walls, mouldings, outlets, light fixtures, windows, and everything in between for the actual structure of your home. Depending on your coverages, it is first and foremost the insurance company’s responsibility to repair or rebuild your home to put you in the same position you were in prior to the loss.

Secondly, the adjuster will assess the damage to personal contents. For damage to personal contents, the onus is really on the homeowner to provide as much detail as possible for items lost. The adjuster will assess the extent of the damage to personal property/contents, but to truly capture costs correctly takes a little footwork on your part.

How Can a Homeowner Prepare for an Insurance Adjuster’s Walk-Through?

Preparing yourself before your insurance adjuster arrives onsite can help to streamline the process and ensure things do not get missed.  Here are a couple of things that homeowners can do to prepare for an insurance adjusters walk-through.

Complete Your Own Walk-Through

It is advised that prior to the adjuster walk-through, you complete your own walk-through.

  • Take photos of the damage
  • Write down all damaged/lost items
  • Include a description of the item, the cost, and any other relevant information: brand name, date of purchase
  • Locating any possible receipts or photos of lost/damaged items for proof of purchase

Part of the claims process will be completing a proof of loss document that requires all this information; anything you can complete ahead of time can expedite the process.

Reviewing Your Policy

Reviewing your policy to understand your coverages, endorsements and limitations before the adjuster arrives is a must. If you have actual cash value coverage rather than replacement cost coverage for your policy, the adjuster’s process will be different. Actual cash value will provide you with a figure for any damage incurred, less depreciation; replacement cost coverage will provide an estimate for how much it will cost to repair or replace the damage.  Understanding what the process will look like and adjusting your expectations accordingly will avoid any misunderstandings in the future.

Adjusters Will Examine Damage to Determine Best Plan of Action

Making fiscally responsible decisions when examining damage is part of an insurance adjuster’s job / duties. They will examine damage to your home and contents and determine if it would be more financially responsible to repair or replace the item.

As a Homeowner, Be Involved in the Damage Assessment

Asking your adjuster what the plan is for specific things and voicing concerns is encouraged.  If you’re worried that the smell of smoke has seeped into the drywall and will always be present, ask if they plan to try and seal the drywall, or if it will be replaced.

  • It’s important to ask questions and voice concerns during the process to ensure you’ll be satisfied with the process and the outcome.
  • Document all conversations with your adjuster and your insurance company, keeping records and making copies of all documentation sent to your insurance provider as part of the claim is a must.

How Long Will an Insurance Adjusters Visit Take?

Depending on the extent of the damage, an adjuster walk-through could take an hour, or most of the day. If the damage is central to one room and the rest of the home is unscathed, the actual walk-through will be a fairly quick process; if the entire home experienced damage, the inspection will be a lot more extensive and thus require a lot more time. If you’re concerned about how long the actual walk-through will take, ask the adjuster when they call to make the appointment if they have an estimated time frame for the process. Examining the agent/broker notes, they should be able to provide an educated guess as to how long they’ll need.

If you conduct a little research and legwork prior to the adjuster walk-through, it can save a lot of time and effort and expedite the claims process, getting you back on your feet and resting comfortably in your home once again.

Be prepared in the event of a partial or total loss if your home. Determine your home’s replacement cost and ensure you’re armed with an accurately estimated cost figure. Visit the Douglas Residential Cost Guide to learn more.