That means you'll need to hire some help, such as a public insurance adjuster. Contractors aren't going to want to put the time into estimates for a theoretical job they'll never get.
Essentially you have to recreate on paper the house to figure out what you're entitled to, Reitz says. "That's quite a process to figure out. . . . It's hard for people to navigate on their own."
Why not just accept what the insurance company offers?
Many insurance company adjusters do a good job, but the home insurance company has an incentive to keep costs down, Reitz says. Insurance companies want to interpret coverage as narrowly as possible, while homeowners want a broad interpretation.
Once you agree on a settlement, the insurance company won't release the full amount of the replacement cost until you've actually bought a replacement home. Then the insurer will want to make sure the money is spent toward a comparable replacement. Insurance is supposed to put you back to where you were -- not make you better off. You're free to buy a bigger and better home than you had, but you'll have to foot the bill for any amenities in a new home that you didn't have in your old house.As you go through the process, don't rush any decisions. Both Raab and Reitz have seen clients' marriages crater under the stress of losing everything in a disaster. "Don't underestimate the stress you and your family may be going through," Raab says. "Ask for help from your agent or trusted adviser. Don't make decisions under duress."