Severe storms have been hammering the United States all week. Everywhere from Texas to the Midwest and the South have been inundated with heavy rain, wind, and tornadoes. Ten people were injured when tornadoes hit western Kentucky on Tuesday with two people killed Monday in tornado strikes in Oklahoma.
With victims all across the country are just now picking up the pieces in the aftermath, here are 10 things to remember when filing an insurance claim:
- Document the Damage. Make a list and take photos of everything that was damaged in the storm. Until your insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to inspect the damage, don’t throw anything away.
- Be there when the insurance adjuster surveys the damage. That way you can go over the extent of the damages and can point out things that they may miss.
- Contact your insurance agent as quickly as possible. When you do, be ready to answer any questions about the damage and keep a record of all correspondence whether it be over the phone, email, text, etc.
- Make temporary repairs. Don’t make any permanent repairs, just do what is needed to avoid any further damage if possible. Keep any receipts so that you can have documentation of your expenses.
- Watch out for scams. Unfortunately in the wake of tragedy there are people looking to take advantage. Make sure to use locally licensed, bonded, and insured contractors.
- Look over your insurance policy. Sometimes less than reputable insurance companies sell policies that will not cover all damages. It’s a good idea to go over your policy and see how much coverage you have.
- Schedule permanent repairs. While you don’t want to rebuild before an insurance adjuster has had the opportunity to survey the damage, if it is widespread contractors may have a limited number of spots available.
- Talk to a claims adjuster. Don’t take the word of a contractor when it comes to what your insurance policy will cover. Have a claims adjuster go over the fine print or even contact an attorney who specializes in insurance to help you out.
- Don’t upgrade. Many people try and replace their old items with better ones, but usually insurance companies replace damaged property with items that are the same or at least similar in quality. Going for unnecessary upgrades can significantly slow down reimbursable on your claim.
- Ask about discounts. Very often there are types of assistance available to disaster victims such as disaster tax deductions, additional living expenses, and other discounts.
For anyone who may not have insurance, there may be disaster loans available. Contacting FEMA’s Disaster Recover Center or the Red Cross is a good place to start.