My Home was Damaged by a Hurricane, Now What?
In the event your home suffers damage, it is important to remember your insurance policy places certain requirements and obligations on you. If you fail to comply with these requirements, then it may jeopardize your ability to recover the money you are entitled to. Every policy is different and I would recommend looking at your policy to find out exactly what it requires of you. You can find the majority of these obligations in “SECTION I – CONDITIONS” under the Paragraph entitled “Your Duties After Loss.” I have attached a sample of what that paragraph may look like in your policy.
While it is important to satisfy all of your obligations under the policy, the following can be the most relevant at the beginning of the claims process:
- Give prompt notice to us or our agent
Your policy requires you to provide “prompt” notice of the loss; however, your policy does not define what prompt notice is. To be safe and to help facilitate your recovery, it is my recommendation to provide notice as soon as possible especially considering that after a storm your insurance company will be dealing with a large volume of claims.
This can be done over telephone. The phone number can be found on the declarations page of your policy. If you have internet access, then you can often report the loss through your insurance company’s website. After you report the loss, you will be receiving a claim number. You should write this number down and refer to it whenever communicating with the insurance company whether in writing, via email or over the phone.
- Protect the property from further damage
This can include things such as shutting off the water if there is a plumbing leak, covering up broken windows or other openings in the home, or applying a tarp to on the roof to prevent further water intrusion and damage. You should keep a record of any temporary repairs you make, including receipts and photographs.
You should document the conditions/damages to the property prior to performing any cleanup or repairs.
The claims process can be confusing and frustrating but I encourage you to remain vigilant. Your insurance company is a business and it driven by profits not by anything else. Their goal is to pay as little as possible for each claim.