There is nothing quite as frustrating as suffering a loss (car accident, house flooded, etc.) and needing to wade through a sea of red tape to settle a claim. No one feels you r frustration more than your insurance agent/broker. But there are some things you can do to make the process easier and more expedient.

Before you even have a claim, be sure your policy covers what you think it does. Did you upgrade your auto policy when you decided to customize your car? When you finished that beautiful addition to your home, did you also make an addition to your homeowners policy. Nothing stops the claim process faster than something that is not covered.

Speaking of coverage, many people don’t understand how important collision insurance is until they hit a light pole or another car. Sure, your liability will cover the other guy (if you have enough coverage), but your repairs are 100 percent out-of-pocket without collision. That Low Cost Insurance policy may have seemed like a good idea way back when, but minimum coverage is exactly that. Also remember your deductibles. Sure, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium, but that deductible comes right out of your bank account

When a claim does occur, fully document everything. If it’s a fender bender, take pictures of both vehicles, get names of witnesses, and take down complete info on the other driver and any passengers. If someone broke into your home, call the police and get a report.  Be sure to detail all your losses and back up with pictures and receipts.

Call your broker/agent or your company’s claims hotline as soon as possible. Your policy might require that you make the notification within a certain time frame. Remember not to make permanent repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before the damage is inspected.

It’s a good idea to take the time to talk with your insurance professional about your particular insurance situation. Do you have the coverage you think you do? What other protection do you possibly need? How else can better prepare for a possible claim? If you have questions, they will have the answers.