6 ways to bungle a disaster insurance claim

Waiting too long to file the claim
Waiting too long to file the claim © grublee/

Insurance companies typically impose a time limit for filing claims. Most policies require you to file a claim within one year of a natural disaster, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, an industry group in Greenwood Village, Colo.

"All companies want a claim filed as soon as possible," notes Mitch Wilson, vice president of public information and education for the Ohio Insurance Institute in Columbus.

Policies typically contain language requiring homeowners to contact their agent promptly after damage occurs, Wilson says. Usually, a specific time frame may be found in the "conditions" section of a policy, under a clause titled "duties after a loss."

If you procrastinate and are late with your disaster insurance claim, it could be denied because you did not meet the policy conditions, he says.

The best way to avoid such trouble is to communicate with your insurer early and often, says Lori Conarton, spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute of Michigan in Lansing.

"After any loss, it is important to contact your agent immediately and advise them of the situation," she says.


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