If there is damage to your home, contact your insurance company as soon as possible for an adjuster to come to your home and appraise the damage. Remember, in a disaster situation, someone may not come immediately. Try to be patient.
Listed here are steps you can follow while you are waiting. These steps will help to expedite the adjuster’s evaluation of the damage and thus speed up the process:
BEFORE THE STORM:
• Review your insurance coverage to make sure it is adequate. Hurricane damage is covered under a standard homeowners policy, but it is very important to insure your home and belongings to their full replacement cost. Flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowners policies, so ask your agent about flood insurance.
• Know the difference between replacement cost versus actual cost. If a hurricane destroys a television bought in 1995 for $700 with a current market value of $300, actual cost would pay only $300 for the television.
• Take an inventory of your possessions. Pictures or video recordings may also be helpful for insurance purposes. Store the inventory and pictures/videos off the premises to help facilitate the claim filing process if your belongings are damaged.
TIP: Use a smart phone to make a walk through of your entire home, sweeping all rooms, opening all closets, cabinets and drawers. A comprehensive, slow paced video can be your best record of possessions and what was lost or damaged.
• Know your insurance company and insurance agent and how to get in touch with them quickly.
• If you rent a house or apartment, talk to your agent about purchasing a renters insurance policy if you don’t already have one.
AFTER THE STORM:
• Before beginning any cleanup, take photos and keep notes. It is important to document everything that is damaged before starting to replace or to restore.
• Make temporary repairs. Keep all receipts for work done on your property.
• Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible. If you have vacated the premises, make sure your representative knows where to contact you. If you’re at home, but your phone isn’t working, leave a number where you can be reached.
• File your claim in the time limits required by your insurance company.
• Make sure your adjuster provides you with a proof of loss statement. Report any additional damage found as soon as possible so that damage may be added to your claim.
• If your home is uninhabitable and you must live in temporary lodging, save all receipts.
• Don’t be rushed into signing repair contracts. Deal with reputable contractors. If you are unsure about a contractor’s credentials, contact your claims adjuster, Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce for referrals. Make sure the contractor you hire is experienced in repair work.
• Make copies of any and all correspondence and information sent to you by your insurance company. Insurance Information Institute – www.iii.org