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Natural disasters can do a tremendous amount of damage in a short period of time, and during this time, the safety of your family and friends is paramount. When everything is over, you’re left to figure out how to put everything back together, including your home if it was affected.

If your home sustained damage due to a massive storm, forest fire, earthquake or other cruel event that Mother Nature has thrown your way, one of the most common ways to afford repairs is through your homeowners insurance. However, there are a number of questions at play:

How do I evaluate the damage? Should I file a claim? What should I expect during the claims process? This post aims to answer those questions.

Evaluating the Damage

When you get back to your home, the first thing to do is to try to evaluate the type of damage that was done. You’re not a trained insurance adjuster or home inspector, so you may not know exactly how much it will cost to fix whatever damage was done, but you can at least give it the eyeball test.

If it’s safe to do so, take pictures in all areas where there’s damage as well as detailed notes regarding whatever may have happened.

Make Temporary Repairs

Whether or not you plan to file a claim, you should make any temporary repairs that are necessary in order to prevent the further damage until permanent repairs can be made. If you do file a claim later on, your insurance company will want to see that you’ve taken steps to mitigate the damage.

The steps you take are going to be dependent on the type of damage done to your home, but they may include:

  • Preventing the spread of mold by removing wet carpeting and drywall
  • Boarding up the exposed holes
  • Putting up temporary fencing to mark off and keep people from going into hazardous areas

Keep all receipts. If you do decide to go through with the claims process, your insurance company may reimburse you for the cost of temporary repairs. However, don’t make any permanent repairs because your insurance company will need to know what damage was done.

Should You File a Claim?

There are a couple of things to consider when determining if you should file a claim with your insurance company. The first is whether or not the damage that was done is actually covered under your policy. After that, you have to decide whether it’s high enough above your deductible to be worth it. Let’s briefly go over both of these.

What’s Covered?

Before you think about filing a claim, you should know what’s covered under your homeowners insurance policy. If the particular damage you have isn’t covered, it’s time to look at other resources. Typically, there are numerous sources of assistance that are available in a declared disaster area.

If you’re unsure about what your policy covers, be sure to contact your insurance provider.

Flooding isn’t typically covered within regular insurance policies. If you live in an area that’s considered a flood zone, lenders and mortgage investors like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA may require that you carry flood insurance in order to protect their investment. They have to make sure your home can be repaired to a standard that’s at least as good as it was before. People that live in forested areas may need to carry fire insurance for the same reason.

Unfortunately, many people who live outside areas that are typically considered flood or forest fire zones don’t carry extra coverage, and disasters tend to affect areas that don’t get hit as hard by regular weather events. If you’re in that situation, it’s best to look to disaster assistance next if you can’t afford the repairs.

Is It Worth It?

It’s important to realize that once you file a claim with your homeowners insurance, your rates will likely go up because the insurance company presumes that if it had to repair once, the probability that there’s an event that damages your home again will have increased.

This isn’t to say you should never use your insurance. If that were the case, there would be no point in carrying it. However, you should decide if it’s worth it for you to file a claim. You can figure this out by looking at your deductible — the amount of money the insurance company requires that you pay before your coverage kicks in.

If it’s only a few hundred dollars above the cost of your deductible, it may not be prudent for you to file a claim. You’ll have to make the decision based on your financial situation about how much you’re willing to pay out-of-pocket.

Of course, this relies on having accurate estimate of the damage to your home and how much it will cost to repair. If you’re really not sure, based on your own evaluation, where the repair estimate will be in relation to your deductible, it may be helpful to have someone come out to give you an itemized estimate on the repair cost. Your insurance company may be able to provide you an estimate for free or with a fee. Contact your provider for information. If they won’t get involved until you file a claim, you may be able to find an independent contractor to do the estimate.

When hiring a contractor to compile an estimate, there are a few things you should look for:

  • Is the contractor licensed and insured? Look for reviews and have the contractor provide you references as well.
  • Make sure they provide an itemized list of everything that needs to be done and the cost of the work. When they get in there, there’s always the chance they will discover new problems, but the list should be as comprehensive as they can reasonably make it without diving in and doing the work.
  • You may or may not have to pay for a contractor to do an estimate. However, never pay them up front to complete any work.

Once you have an accurate estimate of how much the work will cost, you can decide whether it’s worth it for you to file a claim.

The Claims Process

If you’ve decided it’s time to file a claim, what can you expect? We’ll go over the process and what you can do to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

Contact Your Carrier

The first thing you should do if you’re looking to file a claim is contact your insurance carrier. You can contact your mortgage servicer and they should be able to help you find the information regarding your insurance carrier if you are unsure about that information. If you are a Quicken Loans client, you can find that information by signing into your Rocket Account.

Your insurance company will send an adjuster out to get their estimate of how much it will cost to repair the damage, which will determine how much they pay.

If you have a dispute with the insurance company over the amount, you can hire an independent public insurance adjuster to give their estimate. It’s worth noting that this may only be worth it if you have a significant dispute over the amount. Public adjusters often get paid by taking a percentage of the settlement amount. You don’t want to get in a situation where you receive a slightly bigger settlement, but end up with less money for repairs.

The insurance adjuster will then fill you in on the next steps that are specific to your carrier.

Contact Your Lender

If you have a mortgage, your lender is listed on your homeowners insurance policy, and you’ll need your lender to endorse any checks sent by the carrier to give to the contractors for repair.

Depending on the amount of your claim, your lender may require that inspections be done when the work is completed so they can make sure the work being done is up to the previous standards. If the claim amount is high enough, your lender may require one or more inspections while the work is going on as well. Checks for different parts of the job are released as the inspections are completed. Work with your contractor to define timelines for the project when they’re hired. Your insurance company may be able to recommend a contractor as well.

If you’re a Quicken Loans client looking to file an insurance claim, you can get in touch with our Insurance Loss team at (866) 947-8425.

Relocation Options

If you can’t live in your home while it’s being worked on and you’re filing an insurance claim, there’s a good chance you’ll have to relocate. Some people even choose to settle with the insurance company and relocate permanently. Let’s go over your options and what you need to think about if you find yourself in this situation.

Temporary Relocation

The type of lodging you look for may depend on how long you expect to be out of your home. This can change, but you should have a decent timeline from your contractor when you hire them. Try to pin that down as much as possible.

If you’re only going to be out of your home for a short time, it may make sense to look at an extended stay hotel or a short-term rental agreement for an apartment. If you’re going to need longer-term arrangements, you may be able to get a better deal by signing a longer-term lease. In any case, shop around to avoid landlords taking advantage of the situation and price gouging.

Make sure to keep any receipts or bills you get, as your insurance company may reimburse your costs.

If paying for a hotel causes a short-term cash flow problem, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a temporary hotel assistance program that may be helpful. The Red Cross also provides numerous natural disaster assistance services, including temporary shelter.

Permanent Relocation

Homeowners insurance is intended to help get you back into your home and move forward with your life. However, you don’t necessarily have to move forward in your current location.

For anyone who has a home that’s going to take a long time to repair, or decides to start over in another area, you do have the option of settling with the insurance company.

Under this option, you’ll still have them carry out the estimate with the insurance adjuster as a starting point in your negotiations with your carrier. However, instead of applying that money toward a repair, you can use it to pay off your current mortgage and toward the purchase of the new home of roughly the same value. You can get a more valuable home if you want, but you’ll pay the difference.

If you choose to go this route, you’ll need to be sure that you have enough money to pay off your current mortgage.

Hopefully this has given you a better idea of what to expect out of your homeowners insurance claims process. Again, if you’re a Quicken Loans client, you can get in touch with our Insurance Loss team by calling (866) 947-8425. If you have any other questions, let us know in the comments below.

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This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Hi
    I will have my Home Insurance claim check in 1 days which will require Quicken loan endorsement. Can you help to share details about how to get check endorsed by quicken loan/Rocket mortgage? Help to share related process.

    1. Hello, Haresh:

      The best thing to do is contact our insurance loss team at this number: (866) 947-8425. Since you’ve reached out, I’m also going to get this to our client relations team. Have a great day!

  2. Hi Zing of Quicken Loan,

    Im a License Public Adjuster of NJ, NY, MD, WA, PA, and im assisting my client, to which mailing address i need to send the insurance issued check for Quicken Loan endorsements? And what are the documents Quicken Loan needs in order to endorse aside from the insurance check, and repair estimates?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Arnold:

      This is a public forum, so I’m going to remove your phone number. However, I’m going to get this to our team to reach out to you for details and get you the information you need. Have a great day!

  3. I have a check from my insuance company for our house that burned down on oct 5, 2018 in MI. This check needs to be endorsed by Quicken Loans and then sent back to us. Where do I send the check? I need an address, please.
    We have called a couple of times and for some reason never been able to get an address to send the checks! ?? Thank you, Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer and David:

      I’m very sorry to hear about this difficult situation. I’m going to get this to the appropriate place so we can have someone get back with you as soon as possible about next steps. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  4. I have a insurance claim check from a roof replacement from Hail Storm on 7-04-19. I need to know where to send the check for endorsement.


  5. Thanks for pointing out how important these 2 are when deciding whether to file a claim or not:
    1) The first is whether or not the damage that was done is actually covered under your policy. 2) After that, you have to decide whether it’s high enough above your deductible to be worth it.

  6. I think this is the most important paragraph in this article: “When you get back to your home, the first thing to do is to try to evaluate the type of damage that was done. You’re not a trained insurance adjuster or home inspector, so you may not know exactly how much it will cost to fix whatever damage was done, but you can at least give it the eyeball test.” You need to have at least an idea on the damage to your property so you can ask the adjuster when the rate or price seems a bit off.

  7. I would like to send via email to Quicken Loans the copy of our insurance claims report. To what email address do I send this?

    1. Hi Carol:

      I’m going to get this to our Client Relations team, and they’ll be able to help you from there. Thanks for reaching out!

  8. I have a check from my insuance company for roof replacement due to a hail storm on May 19, 2018. This check needs to be endorsed by Quicken Loans. Where do I send the check and the copy of the insurance report? I need an address, please.

    Linda Jackson

    1. Hi Linda:

      I’m going to get this to our insurance loss team and have someone reach out. We’ll get you squared away. I’m removing your personal information. Thanks!

      1. I have an insurance company check from the Thomas Fire damage to our old Oak trees. It needs to be endorsed by Quicken Loans even though there was no damage to the house. Could you please refer me to the correct department and let me know what I need to do next?

        1. Hi Renee:

          I’m going to get this to our Client Relations team who can connect with you about next steps. Have a good day!

  9. Nancy,
    I would recommend a Public Adjuster or a Storm Restoration Contractor that has a history of success with insurance companies. In a complex claim such as yours you need an expert contractor or PA on your side. The little 10% cut for a Public Adjuster (PA) will pay for itself if he’s an expert.

    Laurence Rissler

  10. Damage to Formica counter top – cause – leak from faucet – counter top has to be replaced – insurance company sent their adjuster- not satisfied with amount offered. Can I hire an independent insurance adjuster without any repercussions from my insurance company?

    1. Hi Nancy:

      You’re legally allowed to hire an independent adjuster. The one caution I would have is that they typically get paid out of the settlement proceeds. The amount that you get for the settlement may be lower when they take their cut. This won’t necessarily be the case, but it’s something to think about.

      Kevin Graham

    2. Nancy,
      Yes, you can hire a Public Adjuster to work on their behalf. You will need to pay a public insurance policy adjuster out of the settlement you receive from your insurance provider.
      Public insurance adjusters make money a portion of the quantity that they recoup for you, usually between 5% and 20% of your cash payment.
      Costs vary based upon the size and nature of the loss, and they are normally negotiable.
      In some states, there is a cap on what public adjusters can bill, such as 10% to 15%. In other states there is no cap, so you must look around for the very best deal.
      In cases of large natural disasters (hurricanes, storms), state insurance policy departments might set a cap on the percent that public adjusters are allowed to charge.
      Insurance claims insurance adjuster must never ever ask for a down payment or down payment on their solutions. Your insurer will certainly be paid when the claim has been cleared up.

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