Ten Tips for Maximizing Property Insurance Claims After a Storm or Natural Disaster
Hurricanes and tornadoes are always stressful events. Just ask South Florida residents in West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach and Boynton Beach about the recent Tropical Storm Isaac. For people whose homes or businesses are damaged or destroyed, they are even more traumatic.
An important part of the aftermath is dealing with your property and casualty insurance company. Below are 10 tips to property owners who are filing insurance claims for damage caused by storms and other natural disasters.
1. Remove all valuables if the property is not secure. If you must – hire security. You may be reimbursed for this expense.
2. Contact your insurance agent and file your claim in a timely manner. Get a copy of the ACORD Claim form from your agent as submitted by him, as written confirmation of the claim filing.
3. Make a detailed inventory list and description of each damaged item. Take photographs or video as soon as possible. If this task is too overwhelming, consider enlisting the help of a public adjuster.
4. Try to locate a good temporary housing location. You might be out of your home longer than expected. Also, have your mail forwarded to your new address and your home phone forwarded to your cell.
5. Record all your loss-recovery related activities. Document all your relevant expenses — list them and keep the receipts. It is a good idea to keep a detailed log of everything related to the loss, including communication summaries (phone conversations, emails and letters).
6. Study your insurance policy. Don’t let anyone else assume this responsibility. The insurance policy was written by the insurer, and you had no opportunity to negotiate the terms when you purchased it. Therefore, any ambiguities in the language should fall in your favor.
7. Retain experts to assist you in proving the loss. You may need an architect, engineer, equipment expert, contractor and public adjuster.
8. Ask for all insurance company proposals in writing, with guarantees and warrantees included.
9. Notify the lender and insurance carrier as soon as possible if you intend to rebuild your property, since your policy may have a 180 day requirement to do so.
10. Don’t lose patience with the process. It is your money and you don’t want to give any of it up by getting tired and closing the claim too early.
This document was compiled from the National Association Of Public Insurance Adjusters article, “Top Ten Tips for Maximizing Property Insurance Claims After a Storm or Natural Disaster.” Individual comments were made by its members.
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