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How to File a Car or Home Insurance Claim During the Pandemic

Feb. 26, 21
4 mins
A woman looks over a mans shoulder at his laptop

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended everything including filing an auto insurance or home insurance claim. But here is a piece of good news: these tasks can be managed digitally.

Most insurers have enabled the option for you to conduct a virtual appraisal by taking pictures of any damage to a vehicle or house and submitting the information online. This new digital-first approach helps to ensure your claim is handled efficiently without having to visit an insurance agency or office.

You may wonder if you’re covered for the claim you are submitting. Read your policy and check with your insurer about your coverage as well as how to file a claim digitally. It may be as simple as a phone call or completing an online form. Or, in the case of damaged goods in your home, you may have to replace the items and then submit receipts for reimbursement.

If you need to file a claim digitally, your first step should be to contact your insurance company. You may also need to do the following:

  • Take videos and photos to document the damage to your vehicle, home, or property
  • Itemize the estimated losses and file the claim as soon as possible
  • Pay the deductible associated with your coverage
  • Speak to an insurance adjuster

The Insurance Bureau of Canada provides several tips to consider if you need to file a home or auto claim.

Regardless, if you have questions about filing an auto or home insurance claim during the pandemic, here’s what you should know:

What to do if need to file a car insurance claim

If you've been involved in a minor car accident where no one is injured, and damages to all vehicles appear to be less than $2,000, take photos and video of the damage to your car.

Exchange driver’s licence details and insurance information with the other driver. Afterwards, contact your insurance company, and call a collision reporting centre (if you’re in Ontario) within 24 hours of the collision. However, if anyone is injured or damage looks to be more than $2,000, immediately call the police.

If you are in Alberta, the process is similar if you are involved in a minor collision where no one is hurt, and damages appear to be less than $2,000. Likewise, if someone is hurt or the damage is greater than $2,000, immediately call the police or 9-1-1. In addition to notifying your insurer, the Government of Alberta provides steps to follow if you have been in an accident.

What to do if you need to file a home insurance claim

Suppose you need to get repair work done to your house because of damage caused by fire, wind damage, or burglary. A typical homeowner insurance policy will include two sections: property coverage and personal liability coverage. Your insurance will cover the cost of damages up to the policy limit. In the case of a flood or sewage backup, you need to have overland flood and sewer backup coverages added to your policy, since basic policies only pay to repair the damage caused by water that doesn’t come from an outside source.

You may be able to get the work done before you submit a claim, or you might need to have an insurance adjuster conduct a virtual inspection or visit your property to do an assessment before getting the damage repaired. Check with your insurance agent or broker to find out what the insurance company requires you to do.

Whatever the cause, don’t forget you may be required to pay a deductible first, which is the portion of the claim that you pay. For example, if the damages to your home will cost $5,000 to repair and your deductible is $1,000, your insurance company will pay $4,000.

Provide a detailed inventory describing the damages and loss to your home, property, and personal belongings. It’s best to ensure you know what the replacement value is of your personal possessions, and have any receipts of those purchases at the ready. That will make it simpler to file a property claim. If your home was broken into, describe the stolen property and damages to your home. Take pictures or videos of the damage if possible, and do not dispose of any damaged personal property.

Getting your claim processed digitally

Regardless of whether you need to file a car insurance claim or a home insurance claim, do not hesitate to contact your insurance company or broker as soon as possible. Each insurer will work with you to process your claim electronically and get the matter settled quickly.

Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile, seasoned writer and editor. He worked as both a staff writer and freelance writer for many business and technology publications as well as for several newspapers. He writes about home, auto, and travel insurance, and is a media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA.

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