What to Do After a Hurricane Strikes
If your home has been damaged by a hurricane, take the following steps:
- Photograph and Document Damage: Document the damage thoroughly with photos, as it will make the insurance claims process much easier. In addition to photos, keep a running list of all damaged items.
- Conduct Emergency Repairs: Do only what’s necessary to prevent further damage after a storm, such as covering broken windows with plastic or roofs with tarps to keep rain out. Don’t make or commission permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster reviews the damage. While it may be tempting to start cleaning up and throwing out damaged items after the storm, your insurance adjuster needs to see what happened firsthand to make you the best offer to settle your claim.
- Secure Home Inventory: All home insurance policyholders should compile a home inventory of their possessions before a storm strikes, and keep it in a safe place. A home inventory is a list that documents the contents of your home. It should include photos, detailed descriptions, and purchase receipts when possible. Having a home inventory will make the claims process much easier. If you don’t currently keep a home inventory, start one as soon as possible.
- File a Claim ASAP: Insurance companies sometimes work on a first-come, first-served basis; so it’s in your best interest to file an insurance claim as soon as possible. When you contact your provider, let them know the extent of the damages and that you have an inventory of your possessions. An insurance adjuster will come to your property, assess the damage, and determine the size of your payout.
- Secure Safe Lodging: If you home is uninhabitable, you’ll need to find your family a safe place to stay while your home is being repaired. The loss of use coverage in a standard homeowner insurance policy typically helps pay for your family’s lodging as long as the damage is part of a covered claim. Check your policy or ask your agent to make sure you have this coverage and to determine its monetary value and time limits.
Suffering damage or loss from a hurricane can be devastating, and recovery takes time. If you are prepared and plan in advance, repairing the damage will go much smoother.
Remember to be patient during the claims process. With the proper preparation, things will be back to normal soon.
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