What to Do if Your Home Insurance Claim Is Denied

If an insurer denies your home insurance claim, you can usually appeal the decision.

Michelle Lambright Black
Michelle Lambright Black

Michelle Lambright Black is a credit expert, freelance writer, and founder of CreditWriter.com. She has over 20 years of experience writing and speaking about credit and money, and focuses on helping families and small business owners make smart, informed decisions about their credit, money, and financial products (including insurance). Michelle's work has appeared in publications such as Yahoo! Finance, Reader's Digest, Parents, FICO, Forbes, Bankrate, The Seattle Times, MarketWatch, BuySide from Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more. She's also a three-time finalist for the best personal finance freelancer award from the Plutus Foundation. When she isn't writing or speaking about credit and money, Michelle loves to travel with her family or read a good book. You can connect with Michelle on Instagram or Twitter

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated January 3, 2024

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Homeowners insurance can provide you with financial protection if your home or belongings are damaged, stolen, or destroyed. Yet in certain situations, an insurance company might deny your claim after you experience a loss.

The good news is that even if you receive a denial, you have the right to fight back. Here’s what to do if your home insurance claim is denied.

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How to dispute a denied home insurance claim

Each year, around one in 20 insured homeowners files a claim with their insurance company, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).[1] Between 2017 and 2021, nearly 6% of insured property owners filed a claim. The average cost of each claim was around $15,100.

Sometimes, home insurance claims are denied. If you ever find yourself in this stressful situation, it’s important to understand how to dispute a denied home insurance claim. The following steps are a good place to start.

1. Find out why the claim was denied

If an insurance company denies your home insurance claim, you can (and should) ask for clarification. Your claims adjuster or insurance agent can provide insight to help you understand why your claim wasn’t approved.

You might be able to take simple steps to move toward a swift resolution in your favor. In some cases, however, it might be necessary to escalate matters.

2. Keep detailed records

It’s always wise to keep record of all communications between you and your insurer, such as emails, calls, and notes of conversations, as you attempt to resolve any home insurance claim denials. If an insurer fails to return your phone calls or emails in a timely fashion, make note of such details, as they could be helpful in court or any settlement proceedings, if needed.

You should also be sure to take pictures of any property damage or damage to your personal belongings. Finally, you may also want to create a detailed inventory of any damaged or lost items, along with receipts, appraisals, and replacement costs you can find.

3. Consider hiring professional help

Depending on the situation and the severity of the loss, you may want to consider hiring professionals to represent you. You might want to work with one of two types of professionals in this situation — a licensed public insurance adjuster or an attorney.

A public insurance adjuster can help you understand what your homeowners policy covers and examine the losses to your property and belongings. This is similar to what a home insurance adjuster does for the insurance company.

In exchange for these services, you pay the public adjuster a fee — often a percentage of your insurance payout, but sometimes a flat or hourly fee. You can find public adjusters in your area through the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters or the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

Good to Know

If a public adjuster isn’t right for you (they’re not able to assist with claims in all states) or if you need legal advice, a lawyer who specializes in home insurance claims may be appropriate.[2] However, keep in mind that attorney fees could cost as much as 40% of your settlement. So this route may not be worthwhile for smaller claims.

4. File an appeal

Whether you hire outside help or work on your own, you can file an appeal if you disagree with your insurance company’s decision to deny your claim. Keep in mind there’s often a limited amount of time to complete this process. That’s why it’s important to act quickly if you plan to dispute a denied home insurance claim.

Ask your insurance company how to initiate the appeals process and follow those specific directions. Make sure to include any relevant documents that support your dispute and keep a copy of the appeal for your records. If mailing a formal appeal, it’s wise to send it via certified mail with a return receipt requested.

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Why homeowners insurance companies deny claims

Below are three common reasons home insurance companies deny insurance claims.

The damage isn’t covered under your policy

Home insurance covers a wide variety of damage to your home and your personal belongings. This damage could come from fires, theft, vandalism, and many other perils. Yet certain losses aren’t covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy.

For example, you may need other types of insurance to protect you from certain types of natural disasters. Flood insurance, for example, may be necessary to protect your property and belongings from water damage and other flood-related expenses. You might also need separate earthquake insurance or hurricane insurance, depending on where you live.

You filed the claim too late

In many cases, you have up to one year after a loss to file a claim. However, the filing deadline for claims can vary from state to state and may differ from one insurance company to the next.

That’s why it’s important to review the terms of your policy to become familiar with the claim-filing time limits. 

As a rule of thumb, anytime you experience a loss, it’s best to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. If you file a claim too late, it might be denied.

You didn’t provide sufficient documentation

When you file a home insurance claim, your insurer will need sufficient evidence to support the losses you’re reporting. If you request compensation for the loss of an expensive collection of electronics in a house fire, for example, but you don’t submit any receipts or photos to back up the claim, your insurance company might deny your request.

Creating an inventory of your items might help in this situation. Likewise, you may be able to find evidence of purchases in past bank or credit card statements.

Photographs of your home might also be useful — even if the items in question are just in the background. If all else fails, statements from witnesses confirming that you owned the lost or damaged items might be enough evidence to overturn claim denials in certain circumstances.

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What to do if your home insurance company cancels your policy

In general, an insurance company will only cancel your homeowners insurance policy if you fall behind on payments, lie on your application, or are guilty of fraud. However, it’s possible for an insurer to decide not to renew your policy after you file a claim.[3]

If an insurance company cancels your insurance coverage or decides not to renew your policy, see if you can resolve the issue. If you have to change insurers, remember to compare homeowners insurance quotes from multiple companies to make sure you get the best deal available for your situation.

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Denied home insurance claim FAQs

If you still have questions about what to do if your homeowners insurance claim is denied, you may find your answers here.

  • Will a denied home insurance claim count against you?

    An insurance company could raise your premium after you file a home insurance claim, even if the insurer denies that claim after the fact. However, if you file a claim and later cancel it, that type of claim shouldn’t negatively affect your homeowners insurance rates.

  • Does home insurance cover dog bites?

    Homeowners insurance may cover dog bites and the expenses that come along with these injuries in certain situations. For example, if you invite a guest to your home and your dog bites that person, your personal liability coverage might help cover the cost of medical expenses and potential lawsuits. But if you have an excluded dog breed or receive a bite from your own dog, your homeowners insurance is unlikely to protect you.

  • Can you sue an insurance company?

    If you feel like you’ve exhausted all other options, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against an insurance company that acts in bad faith or issues a denial of coverage for what you believe to be illegitimate reasons. Many attorneys offer free consultations to review your situation and see if you have a valid claim against an insurer.

    Keep in mind that most states have time limits when it comes to suing an insurance company over a wrongly denied homeowners claim or other matters. So it’s important to act quickly in such situations if you want to preserve the option to sue.

Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Homeowners and renters insurance."
  2. Claims Journal. "More States Adopting Professional Standards for Public Adjusters."
  3. Geyer-Fuxa-Tyler. "Can an Insurance Company Cancel Your Policy Simply Because You Filed a Property Damage Claim?."
Michelle Lambright Black
Michelle Lambright Black

Michelle Lambright Black is a credit expert, freelance writer, and founder of CreditWriter.com. She has over 20 years of experience writing and speaking about credit and money, and focuses on helping families and small business owners make smart, informed decisions about their credit, money, and financial products (including insurance). Michelle's work has appeared in publications such as Yahoo! Finance, Reader's Digest, Parents, FICO, Forbes, Bankrate, The Seattle Times, MarketWatch, BuySide from Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more. She's also a three-time finalist for the best personal finance freelancer award from the Plutus Foundation. When she isn't writing or speaking about credit and money, Michelle loves to travel with her family or read a good book. You can connect with Michelle on Instagram or Twitter

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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