Pre-Loss Inspection — Prepare for the Insurance Claims Process Before the Storm Hits

Did you know that one of the best steps policyholders can take to ensure their property claims are processed quickly and settled fairly happens before disaster strikes?

It’s true. Getting a pre-loss inspection is a proactive step that saves carriers and policyholders billions per year. 

Too many homeowners get property insurance, pay their premiums, and call it a day. Then when they file a claim after a big storm, they’re surprised to find:

  • They don’t have the paperwork they need
  • They disagree with their carrier about the baseline condition of the home prior to the damage
  • The full loss is not covered


But you can avoid these unpleasant surprises by preparing for the insurance claims process long before the storm ever hits. Wondering how you can do that? Keep reading!

What does pre-loss condition mean for your insurance claim?

You may hear your insurance company tossing around the term “pre-loss condition,” but what does that really mean? To put it simply, it means that they agree to restore your home to the same condition it was in prior to the damage — as long as the damage is covered in your policy, of course.

Now, what you might not realize is that the term ‘pre-loss condition’ is meant to protect insurance carriers. To prevent homeowners from making expensive improvements, insurance carriers only have to pay out enough to replace damaged items with comparable materials of similar quality.

What this means for policyholders is that accurately determining the pre-loss condition is the best step you can take to ensure your claim gets processed quickly and settled fairly. This is where the pre-loss inspection comes in.

How does a pre-loss inspection work?

If you’ve ever had to file a property insurance claim, or if you’ve ever talked to someone else who has, you may know that an insurance adjuster will come to inspect the damage. Well, you can also have an insurance adjuster inspect your property before damage occurs. The adjuster will determine the pre-loss condition of your home.

Here’s how it works:

First, the adjuster will do an analysis of your insurance policies. They will ask to see certified and complete copies of all your policies including, liability, flood, wind, etc. By the way, your insurance company will also ask you for this paperwork when you file a claim after a big storm. The adjuster will check to see whether the amount of coverage specified in each policy is adequate.

The adjuster may also review any real estate or broker inspection reports you can share. While these reports can be helpful when you’re filing a claim they often leave too much room for interpretation.

For example, a home inspector might put something like the following in their report: “The wood facade on the house was found to be in good maintenance and condition. The roof was in good condition. All smoke detectors are in good working order.”

If you have meticulously maintained your home, “good” probably doesn’t sound good enough to you. There is a huge difference between “good” and “excellent” and if you have to file a claim, that difference could amount to tens of thousands or more.

So, you want the adjuster to do a pre-loss property inspection to determine the pre-loss condition of the property, apply the proper depreciation calculations, and provide you with detailed pre-loss photographs.

The benefits of a pre-loss inspection:

The main benefit of having an insurance adjuster do a pre-loss property inspection is to avoid any claim pitfalls or arguments regarding coverage and answer any questions about the condition of your home before any potential damage. 

But there are two additional benefits to consider as well:

  • Establishing a relationship with an adjuster can facilitate your claim. Most of the time, insurance adjusters respond to a claim “cold,” knowing nothing about the property or the individuals who own it. In these cases, a lot of time and energy goes into gathering information, much of which can be streamlined if you’ve had a pre-loss inspection and established a relationship with an adjuster.

    Also, speeding up the loss adjustment process will result in faster claim payments and better outcomes for both policyholders and insurers alike. During huge natural disasters, a quicker response can also advance recovery efforts faster because partial payments can be issued and people can start picking up the pieces ASAP.


  • You can use your pre-loss inspection as a tool for mitigating loss. Whether or not you have a disaster preparedness plan, the pre-loss inspection can either give you a starting point or help you round out your plan. The question is how are you looking at the value of your insurance policy? Is it purely a tool of last resort or something more?

    Your adjuster can help you view your risk in a more constructive way. Their experience working with other homeowners can be an asset to you providing insight into how to mitigate your risks.

I’ve worked with clients who have their claims rejected by their insurance carriers; that’s why I recommend getting the pre-loss inspection because it saves so many headaches for policyholders. Plus, having everything you need to file your claim saves so much stress during what could be one of the most devastating moments in your life. 

About Galen M. Hair

Galen M Hair, founder of Insurance Claim HQ, is a property insurance attorney who has helped over 800 families rebuild their homes and businesses. He has been rated a Super Lawyers Rising Star, and voted one of National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Click here to learn more about protecting your property from disaster:

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