We’re writing this in the midst of hurricane season, which means dealing with hurricane damage insurance claims. It’s been a few weeks since Hurricane Matthew hammered the Caribbean and the Florida coast.
When you own a home in an area where hurricanes occur, it’s important to understand what home insurance policies typically cover in the event of a major storm like Matthew.
Often, the only hurricane damage covered by a homeowner policy is wind damage, and not the flood damage many hurricanes bring with them.
So when you live in a coastal area, you’ll likely need a separate flood insurance policy that covers damage to your home and personal property. In states like Florida, these policies can be quite costly.
Here are a few steps you should take if you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane and filing a hurricane damage insurance claim.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible
Make sure your insurer has all of your contact information. Insurance companies tend to visit homes that have sustained the most damage, so you’ll need to provide an accurate, detailed description of how the storm has affected your home.
Ask when you can expect a visit from the adjuster so that you can make preparations. Be sure to get a number for their supervisor in case cell reception is spotty in the wake of the storm.
You should also sign up for SMS/text message alerts so your insurance company can keep you updated on your claim. You can be notified when you report your claim, when your estimate is ready, and when they’ve sent payment.
Document the loss
Your insurance adjuster will inspect the damage to your home and possessions in order to be able to help compensate you and help you replace or repair what was lost and damaged.
But it’s a good idea to photograph and document your damage. Include the rough value of your items and when you purchased them. Receipts will be helpful. Many companies will ask for an inventory.
You should also keep what amounts to a journal of your hurricane damage insurance claim. List everyone you speak to, their name, contact information, title, the date of your discussion and what was discussed.
Check before throwing things away
You’ll need to show your adjuster your damaged items before they write you a check. But in some cases, your town or city may require you to discard damaged items due to safety reasons. If this happens, be sure to take photos to document the damage and help your hurricane damage insurance claim. The more organized you are and the more information you have, the simpler the claims process will be for you.
Find out what emergency services are available
After a storm, there are some services that can’t wait: repairing broken windows, fixing or covering holes in your roof, removing water from your home. Your insurance company will find and dispatch an approved emergency service provider to help protect your home. If your home has become uninhabitable, the insurance company will be able to pay for some additional living expenses.
A public adjuster can help
No matter what sort of damage you’re dealing with after a big storm, having a public adjuster on your side as you document your damage can make a world of difference.
Not all types of damage will be obvious to you. And the byzantine nature of Florida flood insurance policies can make it nearly impossible for homeowners to fully grasp the benefits they’re owed. A trained and licensed public adjuster has the tools to evaluate the extent of your damage and give you the appropriate value for your claim.
If you’re experienced flood or hurricane damage and need to file a hurricane damage insurance claim, contact Interstate Public Adjusters today.
We’re licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida, and skilled at helping homeowners avoid the obstacles an insurance company might put in the path of your claim. Living through a hurricane is something no one should have to endure. Let us help make the aftermath a little more manageable.