Hurricanes & Homes: 5 Things to Know about Disasters and Insurance Claims

You’ve seen pictures of damage to homes caused by Hurricane Irma. You’re probably wondering if those affected will be able to recover. You’re thankful you weren’t affected but, you’re also wondering if you’re prepared should you find yourself in the same predicament. Knowing what to expect with regard to insurance claims will better prepare you if you find yourself trying to recover from a natural disaster.

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File Your Claim as Soon as Possible 

The longer you wait to file your claim, the longer it will take for you to fully recover. However, you should also understand that there is a triage aspect to handling claims. If you’ve lost some shingles on your roof and are otherwise in decent shape, there is the chance that your claim will have to wait if there are other properties with entire roofs missing.

This does not mean that you will be at the very end of the line. Claims are assigned to adjusters like East Coast Public Adjusters based on the adjuster’s experience and knowledge. Smaller claims may be handled over the phone to expedite them. The point is you need to get in line but understand that some situations may be more urgent than yours which will allow other people to “break” in line.

Mitigate Your Damages 

It’s your responsibility to mitigate your damages. If a tree falls on your roof and leaves a gaping hole, you can’t leave the interior exposed. Check your insurance policy. Somewhere in the policy, there is a clause that states that the mitigation of the claim is the homeowner’s responsibility.

You may have to hire a handyman to come secure a tarp to your roof. Incur this expense and present it to your adjuster. The carrier would rather pay these expenses than pay for additional damage that is caused by leaving a property exposed to the elements.

Document Your Loss 

You may find yourself having to dispose of items prior to an adjuster visiting your property. If the power has been out for days, you’re going to lose items in your refrigerator and freezer. It’s not expected that you will keep spoiled foods until the adjuster gets there. It is expected that you will document and take pictures of what you are having to throw out.

Keep Your Adjuster on Task 

Catastrophe adjusters deal with claimants in some of the worst possible scenarios. They are also faced with a higher than normal volume of claims. It’s in your best interest to work with your adjuster not against them. Recognize what they are dealing with but hold them accountable.

If they tell you, they will get back to you in a week, then give them a week. If they haven’t gotten back in touch with you, then call them but don’t call them every single day for a week starting the day after they left your property. All you will be doing is making them take a call they are not prepared to address yet or listen to the voice mail that’s the same voice mail you left the day before. That results in inefficient work for them and inefficient results for you.

Prepare Records before You’re Faced with a Disaster 

It’s hard to recreate documents to help in establishing values of items after a loss. People often don’t think about this. There are several ways to establish what you have lost.

Walking room to room in your home and videoing your belongings and the interior of your home is helpful to those trying to help you resolve your claim. Keeping receipts and appraisals of valuable items electronically or even in the cloud is another means of recording information that will help expedite resolving your claim.

The key here is to go through this exercise before the disaster occurs and to store the records in multiple places, electronically, and/or in the cloud.

Disasters like Hurricane Irma are heartbreaking to witness and even more heartbreaking to experience. With a little advance planning and an understanding of what your carrier expects of you, you can better position yourself to fully recover from a hurricane or other natural disasters.

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