Get a copy of your policy, the first step in the insurance recovery process

Since your insurance policy will determine how much money you will receive from the insurance company, the first thing you need to do is get a copy of it. The first place to check is the website. Many insurance companies will have the document available online. If you can’t find it, you can call your agent, your adjuster and the head office and request a copy, but you also need to request a copy in writing.

According to California state law, the insurance company has 60 days to send you a copy once you request it, but you will need proof that you actually requested the policy. Not responding to these policy requests is one of the most common complaints we hear after a major disaster. This paper trail will be critical if, weeks later, you still don’t have one. For a sample letter, please see page 24 of our free eBook, A Survivor’s Guide to Insurance.

Think of this policy as something like a “rule book” for a poker game. You could rely on the other people at the table to tell you the rules, but you would have nothing to verify that what they’re saying is accurate.

Even if you don’t think you’ll understand the legal mumbo-jumbo, still get it. You can always pull it out and ask your adjuster to explain what you don’t understand or you can ask them to point things out in the policy when they say, “we don’t do that.”

To know what your policy is made up of, read our post on What is in my Insurance Policy?