Preparing For The Worst
In the aftermath of natural disasters, insurers are flooded with claim calls.
That is to be expected, given the extent of the damage. Whats more surprising, though, is that many of the people calling to file a claim have questions like, what is covered by my insurance? or will I be reimbursed for expensive personal items? or even how do I file an insurance claim?
While these questions are completely valid, it is important to prepare for the worst before it actually happens. This includes knowing how to file an insurance claim, how to battle insurance companies for what you need, and cataloging all the information you have on your home.
Being prepared for a disaster is more than just hoarding canned goods in your basement; it also includes knowing about your home insurance.
SEE ALSO: 3 Need-To-Know Facts Of Flood Insurance
Before The Storm
While you might not know when disaster will strike, you can always prepare now for the worst. Preparation includes a few necessary items:
Know The Basics
First, you should know exactly what your insurance covers
. This includes getting the name of the person who gave you this information, their phone number, and a list of what exactly is covered in laymans terms. If you can get your insurance to send you a summary of your benefits, that is even better. It is one thing to have your insurance information in your own words, but if you can get it on the insurance companys official paper, that can help you a lot.
Changes In Your Policy
Its also important to note any changes in your policy. You do not want to call your insurance company after a disaster only to find out that you havent been getting the coverage you once had. After any changes to your plan have been made, write them down and try to get proof of your benefits from your insurance company.
Pictures Speak A Thousand Words
But documenting your coverage is only half the battle. Having photographic or video evidence of what was inside your home can also help you correctly file a claim
. It can be as simple as going around your house with a video camera and describing everything thats inside of it and how much you paid for it or as detailed as photographing sections of each room and the receipts that go along with some of the more expensive items. Either of these methods will help you file a claim, if need be.
SEE ALSO: Everything You Need To Know About Contents Insurance
After The Storm
After you have been evacuated and are in a safe area, call your insurance provider right away
and let them know if your home is in the danger zones of the natural disaster. While you cant know for sure how much damage was wreaked on your home, early documentation of possible home damage could make your claim easier to file.
Document The Damage
Once you are allowed back to your home, document the damage. This includes photo, video, or even writing down everything that has been damaged.
Send this information to your service provider and make sure that they received it. Even if it has not been received, call and begin the claims process.
While you might be tempted to put on your work overalls and start cleaning, trashing, and repairing, this isnt the best option. Make sure to get your home appraised before making any costly repairs
. Otherwise, you might not be reimbursed fully for your repairs. This is especially important for expensive furniture. So, if your grandmothers antique couch is damaged beyond all repair, it is still better to wait for an appraiser before putting it out with the garbage.
Make Repairs With Caution
If repairs are absolutely necessary (your roof is about to cave in, for example), get a contractor to repair it to the extent that it will not cause additional damage, but not completely
. Keep copies of the receipt and send one to your insurance company. Also, be aware of con artist contractors, who take advantage of the storm to hike up prices.
The most important thing to remember is to keep calm
. It might seem like the end of the world if your home is severely damaged by a natural disaster, but with a good insurance provider and some patience, your home will be restored to its original state.Do you