And yet no matter how stressful and frightening it may be to live through a natural disaster, the fact remains that if you’re a homeowner or business owner, you now have the added stress of needing to submit an incredibly detailed claim to your insurance provider.
Indeed, if you have any hope of being reimbursed for the damage caused to your property and its contents, preparing an accurate insurance claim should be one of your very top priorities following a disaster.
There a number of other steps you’ll need to cross off your post-disaster to-do list at the same time, however. Many people who find themselves in such a situation discover early in the process that hiring a public adjuster can be a huge time- and energy-saver. It can also lead to substantial financial savings (more about that later).
That’s because it’s nearly impossible to receive the highest possible settlement from your insurance company without an extremely thorough understanding of both the adjustment process and the claims submittal process.
Interstate Public Adjusters, for instance, will work to ensure that you get the maximum settlement you deserve to replace or repair the damage to your home or property. We work incredibly hard to accurately value all damage, and to make sure that repairs or replacement of insured property is fully covered. We are licensed by the state insurance departments of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida, and we are members of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA).
If you decide not to hire an expert, and instead choose to tackle the claims process yourself, the tips and suggestions below should go a long way toward securing for you the largest and most fair settlement possible.
1. Protect Your Property
If your property has suffered extensive damage, it may be necessary to secure it from further damage by protecting all possible entrances and exits, including windows, with two-by-fours and plywood. If possible, hiring a ethical and honest contractor to help with this step is always a good idea, but be prepared to submit all resulting expenses to your insurance provider once the time comes. Staying as organized as possible where paperwork, signed contracts and receipts are concerned is now crucial.
2. Contact Your Insurance Provider
Naturally, you’ll want to get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible in order to inform them of your situation. Wait too long after your property has suffered damage, in fact, and there’s a chance your claim could be denied outright. While you’re on the phone with your provider, don’t forget to request proof that you’ve made your claim. (You’ll need to ask for a copy of the ACORD Form, which your insurance agent will be submitting for you.)
3. Document Your Loss and Damage as Accurately as Possible
Although you’ll probably be living and sleeping elsewhere following your incident, you’ll still need to spend time at your home (or your business, if that was the damaged property) to accurately document everything that was damaged or destroyed. Taking detailed photographs of absolutely everything possible will give you the best chance of being properly reimbursed by your insurance provider. It’s simply not possible to take too many photos, and if you happen to have receipts, bank statements, or even price tags that prove what you paid for certain big-ticket items, those can come in handy as well. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of throwing away damaged items; without them, your payment may be significantly reduced.
4. Go Over Your Policy with a Fine-Toothed Comb
If you’re not already familiar with every aspect of your policy—what’s covered, what isn’t covered, what’s required when making a claim, and what isn’t required—this is the time to rectify that. Remember, it’s now entirely your responsibility to make sure you’re protected at all times. Your insurance company will certainly be using their own public adjuster, and that person will be looking after the company’s best interests—not yours. So if any of the legal language in your policy seems vague, contradictory or just plain confusing, take whatever steps are necessary to understand the language before moving forward.
5. If the Stress or Confusion Becomes Too Great, Hire a Certified Public Adjuster
If this all sounds like way too much work for one person to handle—especially someone who has been rendered nearly homeless by a natural disaster—that’s because it probably is. Hiring a public adjuster whose job is to ensure that you get the maximum settlement you deserve can make the post-disaster process much easier to manage. And because a public adjuster’s fee is nearly always covered by the larger settlement they’re able to secure for you, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to pay anything out of pocket.
To learn more about the state licensing and guides to public adjusters in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Florida, click here to visit the appropriate page on own website. Or simply contact us today by phone or email for more information.