There are many types of property damage claims you could file for if you recently experienced a disaster.Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is very stressful. And you shouldn’t need to worry about recovering your financial losses.After all, that’s why you have homeowners’ insurance, right?While getting covered is a great way to protect your property, it only takes you halfway through the road to recovering from a disaster.This article is about the second half of your journey. It entails submitting the right claim, getting a fair settlement, and everything in between.Let’s dig in.But first, let’s look at what a property damage claim is.
What is Property Damage and What Does It Involve?
Basically, tangible property is anything that you physically own, such as your home and furniture.Common property damage examples are walls, surfaces, and clothes that get burned in a fire.Now that you know what property damage involves, we can take a closer look at the individual claim types.
8+ Types of Property Damage Claims
The nature of the damages that homeowners suffer will differ from one disastrous event to another.Therefore, insurers require policyholders to file a specific property damage claim form for each type of disaster.
1. Theft and Vandalism Damage
- Broken or impaired windows and doors
- Eggs that were thrown at your house
- Graffiti, paint, and/or drawings on your exteriors
- Stolen or missing belongings
To get compensation for damage to property after an act of theft or vandalism, follow these steps:
- 1Get a police report.
- 2Take pictures or videos of the damages.
- 3Make a list of the stolen or missing items.
- 4Contact your insurer and gather the documents that they need to process your claim.
You may have to follow some of the same steps (or similar ones) when you file other types of property damage claims.
2. Water and Freeze Damage
According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damages account for more than 40% of disaster-induced homeowner losses.Your homeowners insurance will cover water damage that impacts your house’s interiors (but not the exteriors).This applies to water and freeze damages that are caused by:
- Extinguishing a fire
- Plumbing problems and unexpected overflows
- Rain and snow storms
- Roof leaks (the interior damages are covered, but not the roof itself)
To get compensated, you have to prove that the disaster was accidental and/or sudden (and not due to negligence).Here, a property report from an independent third party that shows that your home’s pipes and water systems were properly maintained can greatly help.
3. Fire Damage
Your insurer will pay to replace your destroyed belongings and repair your home’s structures when you experience fire or smoke damage.Before you file a claim, you should get an official report from the police or fire department and take pictures or videos of your damages. After that, review these documents with the insurance company and submit them alongside your claim.You also want to consider including a detailed and verified property report that has information about your house and its value. It is certainly worth paying for.This is because the average fire claim costs homeowners nearly $80,000 in losses per disaster. It is the most expensive claim type.Further Reading:How to Do a Property Title Search (And Avoid Misinformation)
4. Wind and Hail Damage
Standard homeowners insurance policies cover wind damage and the related costs.To clarify, here is what your insurer will pay to repair and/or replace after a wind or hail storm:
- Any other structures, dwellings, or items that were impacted by the weather conditions
Once the storm calms down, you need to identify any damages that require immediate attention, take pictures of them, and repair them right away (before they get worse).After that, contact your insurance company. To get compensation for damage to property that’s caused by wind or hail, follow the same steps for filing the other property damage claims.
5. Tree Damage
Your insurer will cover your damages when a tree falls on a house because of a storm or peril that’s outlined in your policy. If the tree blocks your driveway or garage door, you are protected regardless of why it fell.Meanwhile, if the tree falls without harming any structures or blocking your driveway, you would be responsible for the entire cost of removing it.Just as importantly, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover the damages when a badly-shaped or neglected tree falls.Considering this, your claim should include evidence that the tree was well-maintained and in good shape before it fell (alongside pictures and/or any other supporting documents).Further Reading:10 Reasons Homeowners Insurance Claims Are Denied
6. Sinkhole Damage
Sinkholes, which form under the ground, have tightly-insulated surfaces that don’t allow liquids to drain. As a result, their structures dissolve and eventually collapse if they get filled with water.When it comes to sinkholes and insurance, your policy will compensate you for the costs of repairing your home and replacing your belongings.If you experienced property damage from a sinkhole or are worried about one, you should check whether it’s included in your homeowners insurance plan.Insurers in the following states (which have a high risk for sinkholes) may require you to purchase this coverage separately:
7. Hurricane Damage
Most homeowners insurance policies reimburse you for your losses following a hurricane, even if you live in a high-risk area. This includes repairing your harmed structures or dwellings and replacing your missing or destroyed belongings.Nonetheless, homeowners insurance typically excludes hurricane-caused floods and sewer or drain backups.To get compensation for damage to property that your policy covers, follow these steps:
- 1Take pictures and videos of the property.
- 2Fix any urgently-needed repairs and save the receipt.
- 3Review your coverage and supporting documents with your property and casualty insurance agent.
- 4File your claim.
- 5Collaborate and stay in touch with the company until you get a fair settlement amount.
8. Lightning Damage
In the same vein, to receive the compensation that you deserve, understanding your insurance coverage when lightning strikes is going to be crucial.Almost all homeowners policies will take care of your repair and replacement costs if you experience a lightning-induced fire.However, the majority of plans exclude damages to your cars and pets.To file a claim, gather your evidence and contact your agent. If you want to get reimbursed for electrical problems and damage to electronics, you need a professional electrician to verify that the lightning directly caused these issues.As mentioned earlier, lightning and fire claims are the most expensive property damage claims.
9. Other Property Damage
Here are some additional types of property damage claims that many homeowners and renters commonly file:
- Earthquake Damage
- Power Outages and Electric Damage
- Flood Insurance
- Termite and Pest Infection Damage
These coverages are particularly advantageous when you combine them with your existing homeowners policy.For example, if you can’t prove that a lightning strike caused the power to go out in your home, an electric damages policy would still allow you to recover your losses.Now that you know what the different types of property damage claims are and the supporting documents that are required for each one, you can file a complete and accurate claim.
How To Get Compensation If Your Property Has Been Damaged
Once you submit your claim, your insurance company will schedule you an appointment with an adjuster.You should prepare for the meeting ahead of time because the adjuster will work with you until your claim is settled.To learn more, read our article about the property damage insurance claims process.
Frequently Asked Questions About Property Damage Claims
What are Examples of Property Damage?
Common property damage examples are disfigured structures, broken doors or windows, wrecked walls or dwellings, torn down fences, and destroyed or stolen personal belongings.If you experience one or more of these losses after a disaster that’s covered by your policy, your insurance provider will reimburse you.
What is Covered by Property Damage?
Most homeowners and renters insurance plans cover property damages that were caused by theft, vandalism, fires, water and pipe problems, fallen trees, and sinkholes. Also included are natural disasters like wind and hailstorms, hurricanes, and lightning strikes.However, if you live in an area that’s at high-risk for certain events (such as earthquakes, floods, and wildfires), you might have to purchase additional coverage for these disasters.
What is the Difference Between Physical and Property Damage?
Physical damage describes any bodily injuries that you or someone on your property suffered during a disaster. For instance, a person may slip on a damaged stairway and break their bones or get burned while trying to escape a fire.Property damage refers to harmed and/or destroyed objects. They can be personal belongings (such as furniture, electronics, and clothes) or parts of your home’s structure (for example walls, ceilings, roofs, doors, windows, and the fence)).
The Different Types of Property Damage Claims: Which One To Choose?
Understanding the type of claim that you need to file takes you through the second half of your road to recovering from a disaster.To put it another way, submitting the right documents is the best way to ensure that you will get the compensation for property damage that you deserve.In turn, you can focus on the rest of your journey while your insurance policy goes to work for you.Now that you know what you need to do, go ahead and contact your insurer, file your claim with confidence, and give yourself a much-needed peace of mind.