Hurricanes are devastating and recovery takes time. However, if you have sustained property damage, there are steps that you can take after the storm passes to make your insurance claims process smoother. Here are some helpful tips to follow:
1. Document the Damage. Take pictures or shoot video footage before attempting any temporary repairs to assist in the claim process. This includes personal property such as televisions, cars, major appliances, and furniture.
2. Prevent Further Damage. While you need to attempt to preserve your property, do only what’s necessary to prevent further damage, such as covering up broken windows with plastic, moving furniture to an undamaged portion of the house or putting a tarp on your roof. The insurance adjuster will need to see what happened first-hand to assess your claim.
3. Find Your Insurance Policy. Try to locate your insurance policy to determine what is covered. Look for homeowners, flood (flood coverage is not covered under most homeowners policies and is separate coverage) and automobile policies (may cover damage to your car).
4. Find a Safe Place to Stay. If your home is uninhabitable, the loss of use coverage in a standard homeowners insurance policy typically helps pay for your family’s lodging as long as the damage is part of a covered claim. Check your policy or ask your insurance agent to make sure you have this coverage and to determine its monetary value and time limits. If you get payments up front for temporary living expenses, don’t sign any documents that limit your right to make further claims or your right to collect further payments.
5. Save Receipts. Save any receipts from temporary fixes and any estimates for repairs that you receive.
6. Submit Your Claim. Most insurance companies work on a first come, first served basis, so it is important to file your claim as soon as possible or practicable. Provide your insurer with your policy number and the best phone number and email address at which to reach you.
7. Keep Good Records. Good recordkeeping is important when filing a claim. Make a list of everyone you speak to about your claim. Note their name, title and contact information. Also, keep track of the date, time and issues discussed. Copy everything you give the insurance company or adjuster and ask for a receipt. If he or she advises you to start repairs, get that in writing or by email so promises and permissions can be accurately passed on if your case is transferred to another person. The better organized you are, the simpler and easier the claims process will be. Recovering from a disaster takes time, but using these helpful tips can make the entire situation a little more manageable. If problems arise, be ready to fight for the monies you are due under your insurance policies. We are here to help.