How to file a claim for storm property damages
Your dedication to being prepared for a severe weather event has paid off! Your family safely survived the storm. Your property however…….didn’t do so well. Now what?
In this final blog of the severe weather series, we look at filing an insurance claim for damages sustained from a storm. If you follow these tips from the Insurance Information Institute, you will be calm in the middle of all the chaos.
Contact your insurance company ASAP
After a storm, time is of the essence. The longer your home is exposed to the elements, the greater the damage your property can still sustain. You will want to get the claim process started as soon as possible to repair your damages.
Where did I put my insurance card?!?!?
That’s easy! Just go to your important documents box that was in your safe place and locate your home and auto insurance paperwork. There you will find the phone number for your insurance company. Aren’t you glad you prepared that important documents box?
What do I tell the agent?
When you speak with your insurance agent, you will provide your policy number and the best phone number and email address where to reach you. Then you will accurately describe the damage your property sustained from the storm. Be sure to mention any special needs of your family which can’t be met due to the damage.
Ask your insurer when you can expect to be contacted by an insurance adjuster. This way you can be prepared for his visit. Since communication is unpredictable after a storm, get the claim adjuster’s supervisor information so that you have additional contact information.
How can the insurance company help?
In the event you need emergency services, such as removing water from your home, covering your roof, or boarding up windows or doors, many companies will dispatch an approved emergency services company to protect your home from further damage. If your home has sustained severe damage, making it unlivable, your homeowners insurer will provide you with a check for additional living expenses.
Keep a claim diary
Good record keeping is vital when filing a claim. Grab that notebook from your storm supply box and start writing down all persons you speak with about your claim. Your listed information should include: name, title, contact information, date of contact, time, and issues discussed. Also keep a log of all claim related receipts, expenses, and repairs. Many of these repairs and expenses can be reimbursed – but documentation is needed.
The more organized you are throughout this claim process, the less stressful and easier the claim process will be.
Preparing for the claims adjuster
Just who is the insurance claims adjuster? Is he my friend or foe?
The insurance claims adjuster is the person who investigates insurance claims by interviewing the claimant (you) and inspects the property damage to determine the extent of the insurance company’s liability. His evaluation of your damage determines whether and how much your claim gets paid by your policy. Some view him as foe because he may miss something that is damaged. Some view him as friend because he will help you replace, repair, and rebuild your property. Due diligence on your part will help ensure the claims adjuster is your friend.
Document your loss
Today’s technology makes it easy for us to document property damage. Take clear photographs and document the details of your damaged items. Reference your home inventory list and check off the damaged items on the list. Your inventory list should already identify the replacement prices for each item and you can be present this information to the claims adjuster. If you do not have a home inventory, make a list of your damaged items, state the date of purchase and approximate value. If possible, use receipts for the broken items to determine their replacement cost.
If your home is damaged in the storm, you can contact a contractor to perform a full inspection of the property damage. This evaluation will help you be aware of the extent of the damage and have a comparison for the insurance adjuster’s findings. Also, you can ask your contractor to be present during the claim adjuster’s inspection to make sure that no part of the home damage is missed. This helps ensure you get a fair assessment.
Check before you Chuck
Generally speaking, the claims adjuster needs to see your damaged items before you chuck or throw them away. However, some city guidelines require you to clean up items and throw them away for health and safety reasons. So, before you chuck, check in with your adjuster to find out what documentation he requires for the item. Typically photos are enough, but you want to be sure.
Tracking Your Claim
Many insurance companies use SMS text message alerts that will notify you of your claim status. You can track your claim through its process of being reported, estimate presented, and payment sent. You will have peace of mind that action is actually occurring with your claim, and you can start rebuilding your home.
Now you are in the know! Protect yourself and your family.
The above article gives a general overview of the claim filing process. Please refer to your insurance agency for their steps in filing a severe storm claim.