Filing a Home Insurance Claim After a Natural Disaster
Dealing with a disaster can be overwhelming. If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters, it’s important to know how to file a home insurance claim before disaster strikes. This way you are armed with the appropriate information and can get things moving quickly to get yourself back up on your feet.
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Contact Your Insurance Company for the Claim Right Away
The first step is to get in contact with your insurance company as soon as you are safe and able to do so. Remember, a natural disaster doesn’t affect you alone – there are hundreds or even thousands of others that are also affected. Insurance companies can quickly get swamped, so you want to get your claim in as early as you can. The earlier you contact the insurance company, the less ‘waiting’ you will have to go through.
Talk to Your Agent
If you prepared ahead of time, you know what your insurance policy does and doesn’t cover. If not, don’t worry, just get in contact with your agent right away. Let him know the type and extent of the damage that occurred. Then ask some very specific questions such as:
- How long do you have to make a claim?
- How long will the process take?
- What information/documents are necessary?
- Are you covered for temporary living expenses?
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Chances are that you are going to need evidence of the destruction the natural disaster left behind. Take as many pictures as you can, but only if the conditions are safe. You can also take inventory of the damages and make a list. If an adjuster has to visit your home, you can provide the list to give them a head start on determining the damages and what must be done next.
If you have receipts for any items that were destroyed, have them handy. Make sure you don’t throw out anything that is damaged or considered a loss – the adjuster/insurance company will need to see everything.
Of course, if everything was damaged, you’ll have to work off your memory of the items that were lost. Think back to any pictures or documents you may have that will show ownership of any items you want to claim. The more evidence you have, the easier the process will be.
Make Temporary Repairs
If you have the option to stop the damage from occurring, once the natural disaster passes, do so. Keep your receipts for any expenses you have to conduct the repairs. Being proactive and stopping any further damage can help you with your claim. Natural disasters can often continue to cause destruction long after the disaster itself has passed, so being cognizant of these issues and fixing them as you can, will help you in the long run.
Most importantly, you must be patient when filing a claim after a natural disaster. Remember, the insurance company likely has to deal with hundreds or thousands of other people. Have as much documentation as you can and make sure you know the limits of your policy. Know that your insurance company will get to you as they can, but in the meantime, make sure you are safe and are doing what you can to rectify the situation.
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