After the Storm
The days following a natural
disaster can be confusing and stressful, but report your insurance claim(s)
as quickly as possible to help protect your financial future.
Contact your insurer and/or
agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that
your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time
Document damage by taking
photographs/video before you begin any clean-up. After you've documented the
damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further harm to your property
(cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don't make permanent
repairs until your insurer has inspected the property and you have reached an
agreement on the cost. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with
records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts,
including those from temporary fixes.
If your home is damaged to
the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurer or insurance agent if
you have coverage for additional living expenses.
Work with your insurer to
learn what documents, forms and data you need for your claim. Keep a diary of
all conversations you have with the insurer and your insurance agent,
including names, times and dates of the calls or visits, and contact details.
Provide your insurer with all of the requested information, as incorrect or
incomplete information may delay your claim.
If the first offer made by
the insurer does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If
there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the insurer for the specific
language in the policy and determine why you and the insurer interpret your
policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, contact
your state insurance department.
Protect Yourself from
Home repair fraud is common
after a major weather event. Get more than one bid from contractors and
request at least three references. Ask for proof of necessary licenses,
building permits, insurance and bonding. Record the contractor's license
plate number and driver's license number, and then check for any complaints
with the Better Business
Bureau. Finally, be
wary of contractors who demand up-front payment for repairs. Ask for
references and verify contractors are legitimate.