The Hurricane Checklist For Homeowners Insurance is here, just in time for hurricane season!
Just like death & taxes, one thing residents of North Carolina and the entire southeastern seaboard can count on is the fact that a hurricane is GOING TO disrupt your life!
It seems that each year, hurricanes bring more storms, with greater damage! The losses incurred from the 2018 Hurricane Season was well into the BILLIONS!
The facts say that the next major hurricane is inevitable! Therefore, just hoping the storm won’t come is not a gameplan!
Never fear…we have a simple Hurricane Checklist to make sure you are prepared!
- Before The Storm: Gather Insurance Documents
- Before The Storm: Document Belongings
- After The Storm: Mitigate The Damage
- After The Storm: Assess & Document The Damage
- After The Storm: Should You File A Claim
- After The Storm: How To File An Insurance Claim
- After The Storm: What To Expect After Filing An Insurance Claim
Pre-Hurricane: Gather Your Insurance Documents
While this may sound overly simplistic…most people do not know where to find their insurance documents! I mean, who really wants to keep those boring things around!
Many carriers and some insurance agencies have mobile insurance apps. If your insurance agent has a mobile app (like ALLCHOICE Insurance does) make sure you download and connect your account BEFORE the storm.
These mobile apps should contain common policy information that will come in handy once the storm leaves!
Regardless of whether or not your insurance carrier or agent has a mobile app, you MUST make sure you have the following information readily available:
- Your Insurance Agent’s Phone Number
- Carrier Names: Home, Auto, & Flood Insurance
- Policy Numbers: Home, Auto, & Flood Insurance
- Deductibles: Home, Auto, & Flood Insurance
- Claims Phone Numbers: Home, Auto, & Flood Insurance
Pre-Hurricane: Take Pictures & Videos
In the “old days”, insurance agents would advise our clients to go room by room and do a written inventory.
While only about 5 years ago, that practice is considered out-dated today!
Today, the use of video is essential for any Hurricane Checklist. You can simply walk through your home and take a video of your home to show the contents. I suggest that while videoing each room, you (as the filmer) narrate what you are seeing (example “here is a 40 inch Samsung TV”).
For “special items” we do suggest taking individual photos and storing those in a secure location (ask your insurance advisor can put in the files they have for you)
- Exterior: video the outside of your home
- Interior: room by room video
- Refridgerator: make sure to document your fridge
Post-Hurricane: Mitigate Further Damage
Don’t you hate it when insurance people use insurance jargon? What type of Hurricane Checklist for homeowners insurance would we have if we did not include some silly insurance lingo?
“Mitigate” is one of those terms insurance people like to throw around! The fact is that “to mitigate further damage” is simply saying to try and minimize the damage!
Example – if a tree limb falls on your roof and punctures a hole in the roof. Assuming that getting on the roof is “safe”, it is your contractual responsibility to do what you can to minimize further damage by putting a tarp over the hole!
The key thing to remember is to act in a PRUDENT manner that would not endanger yourself, your family, your property, or others!
Basically…use some common sense!
Post-Hurricane: Assess & Document Storm Damage
The storm is gone!
Now it is time to figure out what, if any, damage you have!
Assuming it is safe to move about your property, go around and assess the damage! Make sure to start outside and work your way in!
Chances are if you don’t have much (if any) damage outside…then you aren’t going to have damage inside!
What happens if you actually HAVE damage?
If you have damage, then you will want to take your mobile phone (or another type of camera) and take video and pictures of the damage(s).
Much like we did in our documenting before the storm, we suggest adding commentary of what you see while doing the video walkthrough
Post-Hurricane: Should You File A Claim
For most people, filing a home insurance claim is a once in a lifetime event! That makes a stressful event even more so.
Everyone has a different threshold for whether or not they should file a home insurance claim. There are many factors to take into account:
- What Is Your Deductible?
- What are the future implications of filing a claim?
- What type of cash reserves do you have?
One of the most important jobs an Insurance Advisor has comes in advising a client as to whether or not he or she should file a claim!
Many advisors will stay away from this practice…but if you have an advisor that truly cares about you, he/she will make sure you make an informed decision.
As a general rule of thumb, we advise clients to only file a home insurance claim if the total damage is over 2X more than their chosen deductible!
Post-Hurricane: How To File An Insurance Claim
We are getting close to the end of your Hurricane Checklist, so let’s do a quick run-through!
You’ve done your due diligence before the storm. At this point, you have your insurance information (carrier, policy number, deductible, claims phone number) & documentation (pictures and videos) of your home and belongings.
In addition to your “pre-storm” work, you now have mitigated further losses from the storm as well as having assessed and documented the damage!
Finally, you have spoken with your Insurance Advisor to go over your losses and implications that could result from filing a claim…
You have determined that the damage from the Hurricane is worth setting up a claim for!
Setting up an insurance claim is easy! There are multiple ways for you to file a Home Insurance Claim:
- File The Claim Over The Phone Via Your Insurance Advisor
- File The Claim Online Through The Insurance Advisors Claims Portal (when applicable)
- File The Claim Over The Phone With The Carrier
- File The Claim Online With The Carrier
Post-Hurricane: What To Expect After Filing A Claim
Here is where the frustration can set in!
During times when there are many claims, like after a natural disaster, insurance company resources are stretched thin. There are only so many adjusters that are employed by a carrier, and only so many independent adjusters available to be contracted.
While YOUR claim is the most important thing going on in your life after a storm, the insurance carriers are forced to prioritize claims due to severity!
Obviously, if you have some damage to your home, but the home is still able to be lived in…then your situation is MUCH better than someone whose entire home has been destroyed!
To that end, you need to be PATIENT with the adjuster(s) and the insurance carrier!
While some may think otherwise, Insurance Adjusters are just like any other company employee that has a project that needs to get done…they want to finish your claim and get it off their desk!
However, you do need to be vigilant during the claims process! We suggest the following:
- Document Who You Speak With (names & contact info)
- Document WHEN you communicate
- Be clear with the adjuster about your expectations
- Be clear about when the next communication should be
- Be Patient!