Especially in the wake of the storms that recently hit the southeastern U.S., or an other occurrence or accident, you might have the unfortunate experience of filing a homeowners insurance claim. Normally the procedure follows a few steps: Your insurance company sends a representative to take a look at the damage, a monetary damage estimate is made and repairs are made. Or at least that’s the normal progression of events.

If things didn’t go as well as you hoped and your claim was denied, don’t fear being stuck with the total cost of these repairs. Insurance expert and author of the

Equifax Personal Finance Blog, Linda Rey, offers some tips on what to do next in her recent post, “How to Resolve a Claim Dispute with Your Insurance Provider.”

As any other business would, insurance companies have to cut their losses. Your insurance company’s underwriters have the responsibility of reviewing claims to make sure that they are legitimate and fall under what your policy covers. Therefore, Rey says the first step you should take is thoroughly reviewing your insurance policy. Have you paid even your most recent bills? Could you have taken actions that negated the policy without your knowing? Make sure you are familiar with your policy’s specifics and limits.

Rey also says that documentation is key! Every time you communicate with the insurance company, make sure to write down the date, time and name of the person who assisted you. It is also a good idea to record the number to the person’s direct phone line. Don’t forget to jot down notes about the conversation and how it turns out.

More importantly, make sure to hang onto all receipts, letters, charts, estimates, witness statements, police reports, medical records and other papers related to the claim. You may need physical proof to validate your argument at some point. This is made much easier if you have all the necessary materials together and handy.

In closing, Rey reminds readers to keep their cool. After all, you catch more flies with honey! A little sweetness might do wonders in helping you land a better insurance settlement.

You can find Rey’s post at the Equifax Personal Finance Blog. If you have any tips or experience in negotiating homeowners insurance claim, please let us know.

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