Dealing With the Insurance Company After a Disaster

Many homeowners who have dealt with a home disaster will look to their insurance companies for relief, but not all are successful. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin the claims and insurance process with the company and your adjuster:

First things first, you should get an advance.  If you were forced to leave your home you may not have been able to grab the proper living necessities. This could be anything from clothes for work to a toothbrush. Your basic homeowner’s policy will cover this, but you don’t have to file a claim and have it approved before heading to the store to pick these things up.  Instead you can ask your company for an advance against your eventual claim. You can ask a representative of the company to bring you a check to wherever you’re staying, and you should save any receipts that you have from the purchase.

From there, make sure to check your policy. Even if you have replacement coverage for the house itself, you may only have an “actual cash value” for any personal items that were in your home. A good agent will alert you to this and will suggest buying an endorsement so that the contents will be covered under a replacement policy as well.

Then you can begin to secure your property. Every policy will require you to take steps to minimize any further damage to your property. Most of these steps are common sense, such as putting a tarp on your roof if its leaking, or turning off the water if you have a broken pipe. Other steps you may need to take can include: stop the smoldering after a fire, board up the property, and be diligent. Make sure that you keep a close eye on the property.

You should always file your claim right away. All policies will require property owners to report their loss as soon as possible. You can do this by calling your agent or sending them an e-mail. You will be required to submit a “proof of loss” claim, in which you itemize your losses and list their value. If you don’t notify your company quickly, you may find that you’re far down on the list when it comes time to send an insurance adjuster out to the property.

Luckily for the homeowner, insurance companies are required to act promptly when dealing with claims. If there is no dispute over your coverage, you’re entitled to payment quickly. If you find that your insurance company is taking an extended amount of time, you can write to the state’s Department of Insurance.

Always keep a good track of your living expenses. Your policy should include a “loss of use” clause, which entitles you to reimbursement for living expenses while you’re out of your home. However, you’re only entitled to additional living expenses, which is the difference between what it costs you to live at home and what it costs now.

Make sure to keep a close eye on the insurance process as your home or business is being restored as well. Always find a reputable and seasoned contractor to come in and do any necessary repairs.