Handling Your Hurricane Insurance Claim – After the Storm
Hurricane Irma, the largest storm ever to churn through the Atlantic Ocean, has charged across Florida leaving thousands of people homeless and causing billions of dollars of damage. This means insurance companies are going to be faced with thousands and thousands of claims. Some claims may be paid in days or weeks. Others may take months.
You may have difficulty even collecting at all. Most people are covered for wind damage. Not everyone opted to pay an extra premium for groundwater flood damage. You have to be diligent about presenting your claim. Insurers often deny claims saying the damage was due to the flood, when in fact, the damages were caused by wind. There are steps you can take to speed up your claim.
Report your claim promptly with a detailed description of the damage.
Some insurers process claims according to the date the claim is received. Others process those that report the most severe damage first. No matter what method your insurer uses, you should report your claim as soon as possible. You need to provide, in writing:
· A detailed description of all damage.
· Photographs the exterior and interior of your home. Be sure you have photos of broken windows, holes in your wall or missing roof shingles. Do not overlook uprooted trees or, destroyed furniture or any item that was damaged. If you fail to add an item now, it may be difficult to later claim it was damaged.
It is a good idea to have a contractor go through your home with you. A contractor may note structural damage, like cracks in the floor, that you could overlook.
With your claim, provide an estimate of the cost of repairs. If you have had estimates from contractors, include them. If your claim is less than your deductible, you will not be compensated.
Get the name of the insurance adjuster assigned to your case as well as a claim number. This will make it easier for you to follow your claim through the system and for your adjustor to locate your file when you call to check on its status.
Keep an accurate record of your expenses.
If you pay out-of-pocket for any immediate repairs, keep the receipts. Also keep receipts for hotel bills and meals if you are unable to return to your home. Take before and after photos of items you have repaired. Do not throw away broken items unless the law requires you to. Then, be sure you have a picture of it.
Keep an up-to-date diary of the claims process.
Write down every contact you have with your insurer. Note the date you spoke to an adjuster and the issues you discussed. Insurers have a reputation for making low-ball settlement offers, which you can appeal. Your chances of winning are greater if you have kept good records.
At Dell & Schaefer, we understand what you are going through. We are here to help Hurricane Irma survivors in whatever way we can.