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Disaster Zone: What You Need
to Know About Post-Disaster
Insurance Claims

home equity articles and tips

 

When a disaster damages your home, you may take comfort in the knowledge that you have insurance. However, there are certain things you should be aware of with your insurance claim when it comes to extensive damage caused by disasters. There are certain steps you must take when a fire, flood or high winds cause damage to your home to make sure there aren't any mis-communications with the insurance and to get what you deserve. Read ahead for some advice on how to handle insurance matters after a disaster to ensure that things go smoothly.

Limit the Damage

As the homeowner, you have a responsibility to minimize the damage. If your roof is leaking and you ignore the problem for a few days, you may have problems with the claim. Do what you can to limit the damage and protect other areas of your home. This includes using buckets to catch dripping water, boarding up broken windows and other basic steps. If the home is truly a danger zone, you may not be able to enter the premises in order to prevent further damage because it is a safety issue. Consult with a professional before you enter the home to make sure you aren't endangered by the situation.

Inspect the Entire Property

When you call the insurance company to start the claim, they’re going to have questions about the rest of the property. It’s helpful to do an inspection of the entire property and inform them of all damage when you make the initial claim. This can simplify the claims process later because you won’t have to make adjustments to the claim. Sometimes, if you don't realize something until later down the road, it may be too late to make a claim on the damage. Doing a thorough inspection right from the start will ensure that you are covering all your basis and getting claims for everything you possibly can.

Call Immediately

The sooner you call, the smoother your claim will go. Calling immediately demonstrates to the company that you care about limiting the damage and getting your home repaired. If you have an agent, then you can call this professional. Otherwise, you can call the company directly to learn more about starting the claims process. There are some disaster cleanup companies who can handle your claims as well. These are usually the first people on the scene, so it can be helpful to have them handle the claim since they really know what they are doing.

Get Your Paperwork

You count on the insurance company to pay for damage when you have a problem, but there are times when a company may try to deny the claim. Protect yourself by getting your policies together and reviewing the fine print. You won’t necessarily need this information when you first file a claim, but you’ll want to review the contract carefully if the insurance company starts delaying payment or disputing any part of the claim.

Tread Carefully with Cleanup and Repairs

You want to limit the damage by making temporary repairs, but you don’t want to fix everything before the adjustor has a chance to see it. You also don’t want to rush to remove debris and evidence of the damage. If a large limb is responsible for breaking the front window, it’s helpful if the adjustor can see the limb in your yard. You can further protect yourself by taking pictures of the damage before you start moving any debris or putting temporary repairs in place.

Finally, be cautious when adjustors come to your property. This is particularly important if your area had widespread damage as the result of a storm. Insist that adjustors show you proper identification to protect yourself and your family. Most companies will provide you with the name of the inspector so that you know whom to expect. Experiencing a disaster is a stressful ordeal, however, do not get so overcome that you forget to use common sense and thus lose out on money that you should have gotten from insurance claims. Many people think that the insurance company will take care of everything, but there is still a great deal of responsibility on the part of the homeowner. You need to stay up to date with the situation so that you can ensure that the proper claims are filed and you get what you deserve.

AUTHOR BIO: This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women's interests, and the home niches. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got advice for this article from the professionals at Fix of Utah who specialize in flood restoration and helping homeowners with their insurance claims after a disaster.