How to make an insurance claim.
Making an Insurance Claim After a Storm
The following tips may be helpful when filing
and settling an insurance claim following a storm.
You buy insurance to take care of emergencies and you should be satisfied
with the way insurance companies honor their part of the contract. You must
understand what your insurance policy covers, deductibles and the amount you
are covered for. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused
by rising water, so if you live in a low lying area, a flood zone or storm
surge area, you should purchase flood insurance.
Make an inventory of everything in your home, including a description of the
item, serial and model numbers, original purchase price and a picture of the
item. Keep this inventory in a safe place or take it with you if you have to
evacuate. This will make it easy to prove your losses and ensure that you
claim everything that was lost or damaged.
Making a Claim
Contact your insurance agent as quickly as possible. Let them know about
your losses. If you are relocated temporarily, provide the address and phone
number that you can be reached. The claim process may begin in one of two
ways. Your insurance company may send a claim form for you to complete or an
adjuster may visit your home first, before you are asked to fill out any
Take pictures of the damage, if possible, before beginning repairs. If you
repair small items such as TV antennas, window covering, or fences before
the adjuster arrives, it may be difficult to prove the damage. Pictures can
also be used as evidence for tax deductions.
Protect your property from further damage or theft. Patch roofs temporarily.
Cover broken windows or holes in walls with plywood, canvas or plastic. If
household furnishings are exposed to weather, move them to a safe location
for storage. Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your
insurance company for reimbursement. Do not make permanent repairs without
first consulting your agent. Unauthorized permanent repairs may not be
Most homeowners' policies cover additional living expenses. Your insurance
company should advance you money if you need temporary shelter, food, and
clothing because you can no longer live in your home and your clothes have
been ruined. They will also advance you money if you need to replace major
household items immediately to continue living there.
Keep receipts for everything you spend. Make sure the check for additional
living expenses is made out to you and not your mortgage company, bank or
other lender. This money has nothing to do with repairs to your home and you
may have difficulty depositing or cashing the check without their signature.
If your car was damaged and you have comprehensive coverage in your auto
insurance policy, you should also contact your auto insurance company.
Keep accurate records:
1. A list of cleaning and repair bills, including materials and the cost of
2. A list of any additional living expenses you incur if you have to
temporarily move out of your home due to severe damage. Keep all motel and
restaurant receipts as well as car rental receipts.
3. A list of all actual losses, including furniture, appliances, clothing,
paintings, artifacts, food and equipment, regardless of you intent to
replace the objects.
4. Photographs of ruined homes or objects are excellent evidence for later
5. Try to document the value of each item lost. Bills of sale, canceled
checks, charge account records and insurance evaluations are good evidence.
If you have no such records, estimate the value, and give the place and date
Preparing for the Adjuster
An adjuster is a person professionally trained to assess the damage. The
more information you have about your possessions, the faster your claim can
be settled. Your home inventory will be of great benefit.
Have your list of damaged items and any pictures of the damage ready for the
adjuster. Don't forget to list every item including clothing, sports
equipment, tools, china, and linens, etc.
Don't throw away damaged items because the adjuster will want to see them.
Identify the structural damage to your home and other buildings on your
property. Make a list of everything you want to show the adjuster when they
arrive. In some cases, the adjuster may recommend hiring a licensed engineer
or architect to inspect the property to make sure it is safe. You should
also get the electrical system checked. Most insurance companies will pay
for these inspections.
If possible, get written bids from reliable, licensed contractors on the
repair work. This should make adjusting the claim faster and simpler. Find a
contractor who will negotiate with the insurance company for you.
Beware of door-to-door salesmen. Sometimes undependable workers enter a
damaged area, make cheap repairs, and leave before residents discover that
the repairs are inadequate. Find a local contractor. You want a local
company who you can call should you have trouble later.
Homeowners' insurance policies usually don't cover flood damage (rising
water) but they do cover other kinds of water damage. For example, they
would generally pay for damage from rain coming through a hole in the roof
or a broken window as long as the hole was caused by a hurricane or other
disaster covered in the policy. You will need a separate flood insurance
policy to cover flood damage from any rising water. Contact your insurance
agent regarding your coverage and the need for flood insurance.
If your home was severely damaged, you may have to rebuild sections in
accordance with current building codes. In some cases, complying with the
current code may require a change in design or building materials and may
cost more. Generally, homeowners insurance policies will not pay for these
extra costs. Some insurance companies offer an endorsement that pays for a
specified amount toward such changes.
Most insurance companies will pay for removal of trees that have fallen on
your home, but they will not pay for you to remove trees that have fallen
and haven't caused any damage to your home. Neither will they pay to replace
trees or shrubbery that have been damaged.
Don't be in a hurry to settle your claim. Although you may want to have your
damage claim settled as quickly as possible, it is sometimes advisable to
wait until all damage is discovered. (Damages which have been overlooked in
an early estimate may become apparent later.)
If you are dissatisfied with the settlement offer, talk things over with
your agent and adjuster. Don't cash any checks from the insurance company
until you are sure the claim will be settled adequately.
Auto insurance claim
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