Hurricane Claim Preparation Tips for Homeowners

Hurricane Claim Preparation Tips for Homeowners

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Procor founder and EVP, Frank Russo offers some important tips for our industry friends and clients’ employees/staff affected by the recent hurricane’s who are starting to review their own personal homeowner losses.

Hurricane Claim Preparation Tips for Homeowners

Hurricanes have devastated many homeowners who are just now beginning to evaluate damages and review their insurance and FEMA funds available for the recovery. Bottom line, do not wait for the process to begin, you must lead it. The team at Procor focuses on helping businesses with commercial losses, however many of the same steps and procedures for a successful claim recovery apply to a homeowner property loss.

The following list offers some important tips for our industry friends and clients’ employees/staff affected by a hurricane and starting the claim process for their personal losses.

Claims are unique to each loss and coverage situation and this is not an exhaustive list.

For those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, please refer to the Texas State Department of Insurance’s “Help after Harvey” claim page for more specific and up-to-the-date claim process information: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/storms/helpafterharvey.html

Safety First

  • Safety must be paramount, do not return to your property until it is deemed safe by local authorities
  • Once cleared to return, be sure to wear protective gear and work boots.
  • Be careful as you tour the damage as many times there are hidden hazards that can harm you, including environmental concerns, water issues, and air quality. Consult the local building department website for current information

Immediately report your loss to your insurance company and or insurance agent

  • Your insurance company will be inundated with claim intake, be vigilant in following up until a claim / loss number has been issued
  • Request a full updated version of your current insurance policy. Many times Homeowners only have the most recent declaration of coverage pages and not the detailed policy itemizing what is or is not covered and to what amount.
  • Read the steps listed in your policy to submit a claim. Be sure to follow the specific instructions and memorize each step in writing. Play particular attention to “notice” and timing requirements.

Mitigate the damage

  • Protect undamaged property from further loss or damage
  • Anywhere possible, be sure to protect the property from the elements, for example tarping a roof or beginning water extraction

Record all physical damages to your property

  • Take ample photographs and videos to memorialize the damage
  • You can not have too much evidence.
  • As the claim adjustment ensues and time passes, pictures and video may be the reason a claim is ultimately paid or denied.
  • Create an initial list or inventory of damaged items
  • Detail as possible. For example, take pictures of tags, bar codes; record manufacturers description and serial numbers.

Utilizing Emergency Services / Restoration Contractors

  • A qualified contractor to help remove flood waters, stabilize environmental issues, dry out your property is critical.
  • Be wary of scammers, those looking to profit of your loss. Always verify contractors with state and local agencies. Do NOT pay any company upfront. Reputable firms will not ask for a deposit and return later to preform work. As for a contract.
  • Procor maintain relationships with leading and respected restoration contractors. We can direct you to them.

When your insurance adjuster or FEMA representative visit

  • Your adjuster may not be onsite for some time, or he/she will visit but only for a few minutes due to their workload
  • Be prepared for that visit with a good understanding of your loss
    • Give the adjuster your initial estimates/ lists of damaged inventory
      • Include pricing receipts or internet research supporting the price of an item: For example, if you don’t have a receipt for your television, google the manufacturer brand and type and print a copy of the current price.
  • Provide a preliminary loss estimate / order of magnitude for your loss, including the costs to remove debris from your property
  • Walk your adjuster through your property to answer questions related to the loss
    • Have your policy with you for reference and ask your adjuster how the terms and conditions will be applied. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have your question list prepared.
    • Point our all areas of damages to your adjuster, from the slightest cracks to missing roof tiles.
  • Ask for immediate funds. While you full claim will take months to be paid, the adjuster should have the authority to recommend a “partial payment” to help you jumpstart the recovery process.
    • Request a partial payment for your loss based on expected short-term expenditures and supportable costs that you provide to the adjuster
  • Within 24 hours after their visit, memorialize the visit in an email to the adjuster and copying your broker, agent, and/or insurance representative. The more detail, the better. As the claim process proceeds, critical items may be forgotten or misunderstood and those documented emails can be critical to establish the timeline of the claim.

Building your claim package

  • Create an overall, detailed claim file
  • Gather estimates of repairs; while challenging due to the scope of hurricanes it will be important to get multiple bids for each damaged item.
  • Track all extra expenses or additional living expenses and costs above normal related to the event. Any cost or expense incurred, that would not have been incurred “but for” the hurricane.
  • If your policy provides coverage for alternative accommodations while your property is being repaired, focus on the time or dollar limit for those accommodations.
  • Ask you insurance agent for support in the process.
  • Be wary of scammers, those looking to profit of your loss. Always verify public adjusters with state and local agencies.

 

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