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Home insurance claims guide for first-time buyers

Congratulations, you've got the keys to your first home, and you almost feel settled in. Buying a home can be an overwhelming process, but who you will trust to protect your home can make for an uncertain choice as well. Every home insurance company says they offer the best protection for your home, but who will actually be there when you need them?

Here are three things to know about home insurance and the claims process:

  1. How to choose the right insurance company

If you're unsure of which company to choose, consumer protection websites such as ConsumerReports.org and Reviews.com provide annual reports on reader-provided feedback.

Once you select an insurance company, you can have a real estate attorney look at your policy to explain your coverage. An insurance agent will explain your policy, but the insurance company ultimately has their profit in mind when considering claims, meaning an agent may not explain the possible downsides or gaps to selecting a particular plan.

2. How to file a claim

Just like a lawyer presenting a case in court, the evidence is critical. Once you have arranged your home to your liking, track your possessions by taking a picture of the rooms in your home. Items to photograph should include appliances, jewelry, high-dollar electronics and other collectibles or valuables in the home.

You may have taken pictures of the items recently to maintain accountability during the move. In addition to photographs of items, take pictures of flooring, windows and light fixtures. If you have a unique feature or design in the structure of your home, document that as well.

Additionally, ensure that you have complete home maintenance records from the previous owner. Home insurance companies often say that repairs are not up-to-date as a reason to deny a claim.

3. How to dispute a claim

A real estate attorney can help homeowners work with a state insurance company to make a public complaint or a local independent appraiser to find the value of your home. The attorney can then take this information to court or reach a settlement with the insurance company.

With the right information on how to protect a home, first-time home buyers can be better prepared to face the tedious process of an insurance claim.

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