When it happens, it feels like nothing will ever be the same. Homeowners and other building owners dread the idea that an event beyond their control could damage or destroy their property. Investments, businesses and personal possessions are all at stake in a disaster.

Insurance policies help introduce some relief and predictability into the unpredictable world of real estate ownership. These policies are thankfully dormant most of the time, taking up little thought except to pay the bill.

Making a claim, however, can be a long and complex process. Property damage must be assessed and compared to property appraisal. Levels of insurance coverage may apply only partially to damage. Valuation may be disputed between the insurer and the insured.

For homeowners, standard insurance in Minnesota often covers most of a loss in a damaged property case, once any applicable deductibles are satisfied. Any property damaged within is generally not covered unless specified in the policy.

Rebuilding is never as fast as property owners would like. If a property is too damaged to live or work in, policies often cover replacement housing or space up to the normal monthly level of expense. Coordinate closely with your adjuster to make sure you know your entitlement.

Read your policy carefully; no policy covers every single expense, and you need to know what is covered as you move past the disaster. Property and casualty insurance is also not mandated in Minnesota, and policies are subject to many provisions.

An experienced attorney may be able to help property owners assess their options and determine the full extent of their coverage. Consider legal assistance if you have experienced a disaster at your property.

Source: Minnesota Department of Commerce, "The Claims Process," accessed July 21, 2017

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