After the Storm: Filing An Insurance Claim
WSIL -- Severe weather season is almost here, and now is the time to start preparing for Mother Nature's worst. Here are some tips from State Farm Insurance.
Before the Storm
1. Save your insurance company’s information in your cell phone, if you have a local agent, save their number as well as the catastrophe number of each company that you are insured with. Your agent should be able to provide you with the catastrophe number(s) or they can likely be found in an internet search. Have this in writing as a back-up in case your cell phone is dead and make a note of how much your deductible is.
2. Save your utility company’s information in your cell phone or be able to quickly find their contact information after a loss
3. Take photos of your house, inside and out and keep a copy of those photos off premises in the event of a total loss.
4. Think about who you would call if you needed to make temporary repairs until the claims adjuster arrives, (oftentimes contractors are overwhelmed right after a catastrophe and most insurance companies will work with policyholders to get the loss mitigated, even by non-licensed, bonded, or insured individuals).
5. If you have special needs like medicine, oxygen, etc., have a plan to replace your supply or a place to go if the electricity is out.
After the Storm
1. As soon as it is safe, assess the damage to the home. In the event of a gas line rupture or tree on the house, get outside, if possible. In the event of widespread damage, each homeowner will likely be responsible for turning off the gas at their meter while first responders are tending to the injured. If a tree has damaged the property, most insurance companies will pay a certain amount to have the tree removed from the home. Think about who you want to do the work in case your insurance company needs suggestions.
2. If an opening has been created in the home, i.e. hole in the roof, windows smashed, etc., most homeowners policies require you to mitigate the damages by making temporary repairs to prevent further damage. The claims adjuster has to be able to remove the temporary repairs to view the damaged area (think tarping the damaged section of the roof).
3. If you are certain the damage is above your deductible, then contact your insurance company to turn in the claim. Your insurance company should be able to give you instructions based on your particular scenario. If you are not certain that your home is damaged or not certain if the damage is above your deductible, consider calling a qualified contractor to come out and inspect your property. If you turn in a claim when you really just want the home inspected, some insurance companies count that claim against you even if no money was paid out or no damage was found.
4. After the insurance company has acknowledged your claim and given you a claim number, try to be patient as most insurance companies triage the claims as they come in, seeing the worst first. You can speed up the process by having contractors in mind that you would like to do the work or if your insurance company needs help in identifying qualified contractors. Do not make any commitments or sign any contracts until authorized to do so by your insurance company. Be prepared to exhibit the damaged property to your insurance company as is reasonably necessary.
Wind: 16 MPH
Humidity: 81 %