When you speak about disaster insurance claims, “Be prepared” is the motto that explains the concept best. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and tornadoes happen without warning and cause huge devastation. To file a disaster insurance claim for your home successfully, you need to get prepared much before the catastrophe actually happens.
This will allow you to have everything needed in a safe place and you’ll know how to get your life back to normal as soon as possible. To quickly tide over an intensely stressful period, keep detailed records and crucial policy information handy.
Here are some guidelines which should be helpful in handling disaster insurance claims:
Before disaster strikes
Take stock. Each homeowner should have images of the house along with its contents. Printed or digital pictures are ok, but some insurance consultants favor videos because these allow audio descriptions to be included. Preserve copies of these images off-site, maybe in a safe-deposit box, so that they’re protected in the event of your home being destroyed.
You could use online backup services for digital media storage or save copies on portable data-storage drives. Keep the drives safely within a pre-packed emergency bag which has all your essentials if you need to flee suddenly.
Check coverage. Once you’ve taken stock, go through your insurance policy and other supplementary disaster polices to ensure you’re fully covered
Ensure you’re also covered for the cost of rebuilding your home – this could be a very substantial amount. Find out the provisions made by the insurer for increased material prices in disaster affected regions.
Put together a compact document. Make a one-page document which includes all account and policy numbers along with the main phone numbers of your insurers and those of local agents. If the local agent cannot assist you due to his personal disaster damage, you can directly contact the insurer. The addition of contact information related to your mortgage company and bank can prove useful too.
After disaster strikes
Call your insurer. Get in touch with your insurance agent as soon as possible. Often, large insurance firms dispatch special catastrophe teams to handle major disasters. A catastrophe claim number related to the event can be got from your insurer. To expedite your claim, make sure this is included in all communications. Get ready for lots of paperwork.
Make the property secure. Once you’ve inspected the damage and taken required photographs, the onus of securing the property is on you. This may include getting a waterproof tarp for the roof or boarding up damaged windows and doors. If you don’t do this, insurers may have issues regarding extent of damage during the disaster and afterwards.
Let the adjuster be the negotiator. Though it’s necessary to monitor negotiations between an adjuster and contractors, it’s best to avoid getting involved. Things often turn out better when you work with contractors approved by the insurer. Otherwise, contractors might try to increase charges after an adjuster has fixed an amount.
Keep records carefully. Try to get all estimates in writing. It’s important to have a complete record of the communication with the insurance firm, adjuster, contractors, and others involved in the claim. Your records should include the date, time and details of telephonic conversations as well as copies of emails.
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