When Should You File Home Insurance Claims?

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You should file a homeowners insurance claim as soon as possible if you experience a covered loss and the cost to take care of it is substantially higher than your deductible. However, you may not want to file a home insurance claim after a minor loss or if you have already filed multiple claims in recent years.

Read on to learn more about when to file a homeowners insurance claim, what the process is like and why filing home insurance claims can sometimes end up costing you in the long run.

Key Takeaways

  • Filing a homeowners insurance claim is the process of requesting payment or reimbursement for property damage, additional living expenses or liability issues covered by your home insurance policy.
  • You will always have to cover a set amount of every claim out of pocket by paying your deductible, with most people opting for a deductible in the $500 to $2,000 range.
  • The amount of time you have to file a claim will depend on your insurer but you generally have to file within a year of experiencing a covered loss and should try to file as soon as possible after the loss.
  • Your rates can go up after you file a claim, so it’s recommended that you avoid filing a claim if the cost to cover the loss is barely above your deductible or if you have already filed multiple claims over the past few years.

What Is a Home Insurance Claim?

A home insurance claim is a formal request for payment from your insurance company on account of a loss that you believe is covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Covered losses can include damage to your home or belongings, liability claims involving someone else’s injury or property damage and temporary living costs after your home is damaged so severely that you can’t live in it.

Keep in mind that home insurance policies come with exclusions and your insurer won’t reimburse you after an excluded loss. For example, standard policies exclude coverage for flooding, meaning your insurance carrier will always deny claims for flood damage unless you buy extra coverage. In addition, homeowners insurance is generally designed to cover unexpected losses, so you shouldn’t file a claim for damage caused by ordinary wear and tear.

How Do Home Insurance Claims Work?

Anytime your claim is approved, you will have to contribute a set amount of money, known as a deductible, out of pocket. For example, if you file a claim for $12,000 worth of fire damage and you have a $2,000 deductible, your insurance payout will be $10,000.

Deductibles help prevent excessive claims since there is no reason for you to file an insurance claim for a minor loss if the cost of repairs doesn’t exceed your deductible.

For claims involving stolen or destroyed property, your insurer will initially pay you the actual cash value (ACV) of the lost item, which is its value after subtracting depreciation factors like age or wear and tear. However, if your policy comes with replacement cost value (RCV) coverage, then you will receive a recoverable depreciation payment after you replace the item, meaning your overall payout should be enough to fully cover the cost of replacing your lost property.

how recoverable depreciation works

How Much Does It Cost To File a Home Insurance Claim?

The act of filing a home insurance claim doesn’t cost anything since you automatically gain the option to do so by paying your homeowners insurance premiums. However, remember that your policy comes with a deductible, which means you’ll always have to pay something out of pocket when you file a claim, even if the claim is approved. The most common deductible is $1,000, while $500 and $2,000 are also popular deductible amounts.[1]

Your policy may come with different deductibles for different coverage types. For example, you may have the option to set your personal property insurance deductible at $1,000 and your dwelling insurance deductible at $2,000. However, whether you have to pay both deductibles after your home and belongings are damaged by the same peril may be determined on a case-by-case basis and will depend on the facts of your specific situation, according to State Farm spokesperson Amy Harris.

“Generally speaking, a homeowners policy deductible is applied once per loss event for Coverage A (dwelling) and B (contents), or as outlined in a specific endorsement to the policy,” Harris said in a message to SmartFinancial.

Will My Home Insurance Rates Be Affected by an Insurance Claim?

Claims history is among the factors that can affect the cost of homeowners insurance. While your rates aren’t guaranteed to go up after you file a claim, it is possible for an insurance company to charge you more for coverage after only a single claim since the company will view you as more likely to file additional claims in the future. For example, filing a claim for wind damage will raise your rates by around 9% on average.[2]

If you file multiple homeowners insurance claims within the span of a few years, your premiums will almost certainly increase.[3] Your policy could even be nonrenewed or canceled if your insurance provider believes you are filing claims excessively. This could make it harder for you to find coverage elsewhere, meaning you could eventually have to shop for expensive high-risk home insurance if you make a habit of filing claims too often.

When Should I File a Home Insurance Claim?

It’s generally best to file an insurance claim sooner rather than later so you can get the problem fixed and return to your status quo in a timely manner. Your homeowners insurance company will likely deny your claim if you file it more than a year after the damage took place.[4] In addition, if your home was damaged by something that also affected other people in your area like a hurricane, it’s important to file a claim early so you can start the claims process before your insurer gets bogged down by several other claims.

Keep in mind that you generally shouldn’t file a claim unless the repair cost is significantly higher than your deductible. Since insurance claims can raise your premiums for several years, filing a claim for a repair bill that is barely above your deductible could potentially result in a situation where you lose more money in the long run than if you had just covered the entire cost of repairs out of pocket.[3]

How To File a Home Insurance Claim

If you have experienced a loss that your homeowners insurance covers, you can take the following steps to file a claim:

  1. Call the police if your claim involves a crime like vandalism or theft and ask the responding officers to fill out a police report.
  2. Inform your home insurance company about the damage and schedule a time for an insurance adjuster to visit your home.
  3. Thoroughly document the damage by taking pictures or filming videos and reach out to local contractors who can help you estimate the cost of repairs.
  4. Perform emergency repairs if necessary to prevent your home and belongings from incurring additional damage.
  5. Let your mortgage lender know about the claim since the insurance payout will likely be in both your name and your lender’s name if you are still paying off your house.
  6. Support your claim during the adjuster’s visit by presenting evidence such as photos and videos, police reports, home inventories and repair estimates from independent contractors.
  7. Hold on to all documentation that is pertinent to your claim including invoices or receipts for repairs and additional living expenses.
  8. Keep track of your claim’s status so you can fill out paperwork and address any issues that arise promptly.
  9. Accept your insurance settlement or, if you believe it is insufficient, consider hiring a public insurance adjuster to independently assess your claim and dispute the insurance company’s offer.

Best Insurance Companies for Handling Claims

J.D. Power ranked the following insurers as the top 10 homeowners insurance companies for overall customer satisfaction based on multiple factors including the claims process:[5]

  1. Erie Insurance
  2. Amica
  3. Auto-Owners Insurance
  4. AIG
  5. State Farm
  6. COUNTRY Financial
  7. American Family
  8. Nationwide
  9. CSAA Insurance Group (AAA)
  10. Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA)
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How long does it take to get a home insurance claim payout?

The amount of time it takes to receive your home insurance settlement may depend on your insurer and your state’s requirements. For example, homeowners insurance companies in Texas must acknowledge your claim within 15 days of receiving it, issue a ruling within 15 days of collecting the information needed to assess the claim and pay you within five business days of approving the claim.[6]

Can I cancel a homeowners insurance claim?

Yes, you can generally withdraw a claim after filing it, although it may remain on your claims history if it was a covered loss.[4] For example, if you file a water damage claim after snow builds up on your roof, you might decide to cancel your claim later if you discover that there was already a hole in your roof since your claim will likely be rejected due to poor maintenance.

Do home insurance claims stay on your record?

Homeowners insurance claims usually stay on your Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report for five to seven years.[2]

What are the pros and cons of filing a homeowners insurance claim?

The main benefit of filing home insurance claims is that they can help you cover costly repairs that you couldn’t afford to take care of otherwise, while the main drawback is the potential for higher rates and policy nonrenewal depending on the number of claims you file.


  1. American Family Insurance. “Homeowners Insurance Deductibles.” Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.
  2. NerdWallet. “9 Ways To Lower Your Home Insurance Cost.” Accessed Jan. 24, 2024.
  3. Kin Insurance. “How Long Do Claims Stay on Your Record?” Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.
  4. Hippo Insurance. “How To File a Home Insurance Claim in 8 Easy Steps.” Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.
  5. J.D. Power. “2023 U.S. Home Insurance Study.” Accessed Jan. 24, 2024.
  6. Texas Department of Insurance. “How Do I File a Homeowners Insurance Claim?” Page 1. Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.

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