Making a Hurricane Damage Claim on your Homeowners Insurance
After a hurricane, there are insurance coverage issues that you may face. For example, storm surge damage and harm caused by falling trees. Regardless of the extent of the hurricane destruction, there are a few steps that you can take when making your homeowners insurance hurricane damage claim.
- Contact the Insurance Company – either directly or through your insurance agent. Make the call as soon as you can, even if you haven’t yet been able to determine all of the damage. You don’t want your delay to be a basis for denying your claim. You may want to follow this call with an email to create a paper trail proving when you open the claim. To assist you in this process, the Insurance Information Institute has put together a list of contact numbers for various insurance companies.
- Make Basic Repairs – you shouldn’t make any major repairs until the adjuster has had a chance to inspect the property. You should, however, take steps to prevent further damage also known as mitigating damage. For example, put a tarp on the roof and cover broken windows. Keep receipts from any materials you purchase. Before you make even minor repairs, photograph the damage and do not throw anything away until the adjuster has been through your home. Use your phone to videotape the damage and the effects of the loss.
- Make a List of your Things – it is best if this is made in advance. Ideally, you should photograph your possessions, including serial numbers on items such as big screen TV’s. You can use your phone to create a recording of what is in your home. As you walk room to room, verbally narrate where you bought each item. The Insurance Information Institute has come up with a checklist to help you create an inventory of your home. Big ticket items, such as expensive jewelry or artwork, should ideally already be including on your insurance policy complete with an appraisal. Ask the adjuster what forms will need to be completed and use that to help you through the inventory process.
- Meet with the Adjuster – set up a face-to-face meeting with the adjuster, ideally at your home. Walk the adjuster through the damage. They didn’t live in your home. You need to paint a picture for them of how your home looked before the storm. If you’ve already found a contractor, have them attend this meeting to walk the adjuster through the necessary repairs.
- Keep your Receipts – keep receipts for all expenses incurred as a result of the storm. If you evacuated, keep your gas receipts, hotel bills, and restaurant receipts. If you had to buy clothing, keep the receipt. And keep receipts for any repairs that you make. Be detailed! You want to hand the adjuster everything they need to pay your claim in full. That way, when they don’t, you are not to blame.
- Be Wary of Johnny Come Lately Contractors – contractors may come out of the woodwork following a storm. Some of them may be looking to make a quick buck. Do your research and be hesitant to deal in cash. Look for consistency, professionalism, and positive references.
- Explore your Options – if some of your damages aren’t covered by insurance, look to government assistance programs if they exist. FEMA may offer disaster assistance.
- Get Help! If your claim is denied, protest. If your protest is going nowhere, you may need the help of an experienced insurance claim lawyer. Just as contractors may show up in the wake of a disaster, lawyers may start to dabble in disaster claims. Again, do your research. Look for an attorney who has handled these cases in the past and go with someone that you are going to trust.
Attorney Handling a Homeowners Insurance Hurricane Damage Claim
The Law Office of Mynor E. Rodriguez P.C. offers free consultations. Contact Mynor Rodriguez with questions you may have about the best way to handle your hurricane damage claim. Mynor has been down this road before handling claims involving major Texas hurricanes. Let him help you through the process.