Hurricane Season Is Coming! Understand How To Handle Home Owners Claim Damages
Natural disaster planning is one of the most important duties a homeowner can perform. Protection of life is first and foremost before, during and immediately following a disaster. But after this you will want your property damage paid for by the insurance company. While the structural damage to the dwelling is relatively easy for the adjuster to identify, loss to your contents can be much harder.
HURRICANE PRE-DISASTER ACTIVITIES
It is very important you to consider and address the following insurance-related coverage suggestions prior to being faced with a disaster.
Take photographs or make a video of each room of your home and compile a set of records, old receipts, and bills. This will help establish the price and age of your property.Write down brand names and model numbers of appliances and electronic equipment and date purchased.Do not forget to list items such as clothing, sports equipment, tools, china, linens, holiday decorations, business equipment, hobby materials, and all other materials associated with your home. You will be surprised at the thousands of dollars you have tied up in your kitchen, clothes and other items.Utilize any of the many free web sites to upload all your pictures and scanned in records. Even if all is lost these can then be downloaded from anywhere.Keep all of your insurance policies in an easily accessible location. An accordion style folder with a band or snap that secures it will assure everything you need is together and can be easily grabbed in the event you have to hastily evacuate.Keep all necessary information regarding your health coverage, including prescription information, with your insurance records in the event of an evacuation.Contact your insurance company or agent to verify coverages are in place before a disaster strikes. Make sure you have wind coverage protection, and flood insurance if your home is located in a flood plain area.Make sure that you understand the deductible provision of your policy. Often if you are in hurricane or earthquake zones you will have an additional deductible if the losses are from those types of events.Be certain you understand the claim procedures of your insurance company.Make sure you have insurance up to at least 80% of the value on your home to avoid penalties under any co-insurance provision of your policy. Your insurance is designed to replace your home, not just pay off your mortgage.Monitor the latest weather developments by following radio or television broadcasts. Be prepared to evacuate.Be sure that your vehicle has sufficient fuel in it in order to evacuate from your home.If forced to evacuate, keep with you at all times your insurance records, including the name and telephone number of your insurer or insurance agent.Have a suitcase packed to last each member of your family for at least two days in case you need to evacuate from your home.Be prepared to board up your windows and doorways to protect your home. Pre-cut plywood or other material can be used.Keep a tarp and other supplies available to protect your home in case it is damaged. The policy requires the policyholder to protect the property from further damage.You may not be required to evacuate but may still lose power and/or water for a period of time. Having an emergency box with first aid, flashlights, extra batteries, non-perishable food items, bottled water, etc. for at least a week is necessary.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A DISASTER
Protection of life is first and foremost before, during and immediately following a disaster. When re-entry has been cleared by authorities, BE CAREFUL to look for hazards such as downed power lines, broken glass, gas leaks, holes, etc.
IMMEDIATELY TAKE PICTURES
You do not know when your adjuster may come out to inspect your property. Even if it is immediately there may be a need in the future to have a supplementary claim filed if your claim is not satisfactorily paid the first time. There may also be a need for litigation in the future if you disagree with the amount the insurance company is willing to pay. While you can expect to have the insurance company treat you fairly in the majority of cases, always document everything in the beginning as if you may need to go to court in the future. It is better to have too much evidence than not enough. In addition the insurance company is more likely to give a fast and fair settlement to the property owner who has demonstrated they are knowledgeable and diligent in the claims process.
Using digital cameras is best or if using a disposable have the pictures both printed on paper and onto a CD. This will be beneficial later as future adjusters can put this into the programs used to write their reports. Date stamp the pictures if possible. Give a copy of the pictures digitally on a CD or by e-mail to any future adjusters or investigators. Always keep your originals.
Document all the structural and personal property damage. Roof pictures are very important to show wind damage. If you have been in a hurricane and were affected by flood waters you are still entitled to payment under your homeowners for any wind damage that causes rain to enter the structure. When water enters the attic space it often causes mold to grow on the rafters, insulation, in the ductwork and can continue to the ceilings and upper walls. All of this is covered. It is better to take too many than too few pictures.
NOTIFY YOUR AGENT OF YOUR LOSS
You must provide as much detail as possible about damage to your property. Remember to give all work and home telephone numbers where you may be reached as well as an alternative contact person. This especially important if your home is uninhabitable. Your insurance company will need to be able to contact you. Have your policy numbers ready as well as the personal identification numbers such as Social Security and Driver's License numbers of all the owners of the property. The insurance company may also want to know who else lived in the property at the time of loss.
People whose homes are not livable due to severe structural damage will be given first priority in having their claims handled. (Those with less severe structural damage will be given second priority, while those with minor damage will be next, and so on.)
Related Tags: storm, insurance, house, homeowner, claim, hurricane, damages, adjuster, tordano
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