Insurance companies earn a lot of extra money off of what their policyholders don't know. Nothing makes an insurer more nervous than an organized policyholder that is aware of the facts and has all the paperwork.

If you ever have to file a claim, you should follow these steps as a matter of course.

READ YOUR POLICY: It is dense and loaded with legal jargon, but there should be a declarations page that details exactly what is covered and the dollar limits of each category. If you know exactly what you are supposed to get, then you will know exactly when you are being treated unfairly.

WRITING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CALLING: The telephone is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t have a memory. Phone records can tell when two people spoke on the phone, but they can’t tell you what the two people talked about. E-mails, on the other hand, can be kept for as long as they are needed, plus you have the added benefit of knowing when it was sent and received. Every time you have a conversation with a claims supervisor or adjuster, make sure that you have their e-mail address, and then send an e-mail summarizing the conversation you just had.

KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING: Hold onto all reports, letters, summarized e-mails and other correspondence between you and the insurance company. Don’t throw anything away. Also make sure that you have the names, e-mails and phone numbers of everyone at the insurance company who is involved in your case.

SCRUTINIZE THE ADJUSTER’S REPORT: Once the adjuster gets around to surveying the damage, he or she will give you a detailed written estimate as to how much it should cost to repair or replace the damage. You should also receive a check at about the same time. DO NOT DEPOSIT IT until you have carefully reviewed the report and agree with everything on it. Cashing the check implies that you accept the report.

BE POLITE, BUT BE THOROUGH: If you feel that there is a big difference between the what you should be getting and what you are getting, this is where all that documentation should come in handy. If there are discrepancies somewhere in the all the documents and correspondence, be sure to point that out. Make your complaints in writing, and make sure that your complaints are clear and to the point.

CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: When it gets to the point where you are at an obvious impasse, it would be in your best interest to contact a lawyer. It is also in your best interest to contact an attorney that not only specializes in dealing with insurance companies, but one who has years of experience in doing so. Insurers hire the best and most experienced attorneys in the country to handle their interests, so your attorney should be of the same caliber.

In Georgia, that's the Dover Law Firm.

We have years of experience in fighting for the rights of injured Georgia citizens, and that often puts us at odds with some of the biggest insurance companies in the state. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact our law offices for a free legal consultation today.