What To Expect When Your Home Is Damaged In A Disaster
What To Expect When Your Home Is Damaged In A Disaster
DISASTER CLAIMS PROCESS: What to
Expect When Your Home is Damaged in a
The hours following a disaster at your home will
be stressful and heartbreaking. Dealing with your insurance claim – whether you
are a homeowner or a renter – will be emotional, but should not be difficult.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers this overview
of what you might expect and what you will need to file a claim after a
Following the Disaster
your property from further damage, you should make temporary repairs or arrange
for a qualified professional to do so. Take photos of the damage and remove
personal property if your home cannot be secured. Do not dispose of property
until an insurance adjuster has reviewed it for your claim. Many policies
include reimbursement for storage costs incurred until your home is
If you can
still live in the home, talk with your agent about critical repairs that need to
be made. Whether you make the repairs or hire someone, save the receipts for
If you need
to find other lodging, keep records of expenses and all receipts. Homeowners and
renter's insurance generally provide limited coverage for expenses like: meals,
rent, utility installation and transportation.
insurance companies have a time requirement for filing a claim. The process will
go faster if you can locate a copy of your policy and home inventory.
company or visit a mobile claims center to start your claim. If you cannot find
the company or agent's number, call your state insurance department. The NAIC
can connect you to your state department by calling 1-866-470-6242
begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-866-470-6242 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or by going to
You will be
asked to list all items destroyed, damaged or missing. If you do not have a home inventory,
begin making a list of items going room by room from memory. Include as much
detail as possible, like where and when the item was purchased, the cost, brand
name and model.
If your car
is damaged while in your garage/carport, it is covered by your automobile
policy—not your homeowners policy. If you are insured by two separate companies
for these coverages you must file a claim with both companies.
insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to survey the damage at no
cost to you. Public adjusters may offer the same services, but you would be
responsible for any related fees. Check to be sure they are licensed with the
state insurance department and ask for references and qualifications before
retaining an independent adjuster. To contact your state insurance department,
go to http://map.naic.org.
Do not feel
rushed or pushed to agree on a settlement. If there are disagreements, try to
resolve them with your insurer. If you cannot reach an agreement, your state
insurance department can help you decide if arbitration or mediation is an
claim may come in multiple payments. The first will likely be an emergency
advance and may include additional living expenses. The payment for your
personal property and any additional living expenses will be made out to you.
Payments for the structure may be payable to you and your lienholder if there is
a mortgage on your home. Lenders may place that money in an escrow account to
pay for repairs as the work is completed.
often take advantage of the chaos following a disaster. When choosing a
contractor to make repairs, check licensing and references before hiring. Always
insist on a written estimate before repairs begin and do not sign any contracts
before the adjuster has examined the damage. In some cases the adjuster will
want to see the estimate before you begin making repairs.
Do not pay
a contractor the full amount up front or sign over your insurance settlement
payment. A contractor should expect to be paid a percentage when the contract is
signed and the remainder when the work is completed.
contractor finds hidden damage that was not discovered in the original
assessment by the adjuster, contact your insurance company to resolve the
difference. For any disagreements that cannot be resolved, contact your state
insurance department about your recourse.
earthquake damage are not covered in a typical homeowners or renter's policy. If
you have a separate flood or earthquake policy, contact the company that wrote
the additional policy to file your claim.
insurance company delays in responding to your claim, call the claims department
to find out if an adjuster has been assigned. Verify your contact details,
especially if you have evacuated your home. Call your state insurance department
if the delay is unreasonable.
settling your claim, if you think of items that were not in your initial loss
list, contact your insurance company. Unless the company has paid the entire
limit for the coverage of those types of items, it is possible the company will
make an additional payment.
damages exceed the amount of your coverage, federal agencies will occasionally
provide grants or low-interest loans to assist with recovery following major
disasters. Check with your local disaster center or state insurance department
for more information.
have re-established your home following the disaster, take time to do a home
inventory. You can download a home inventory spreadsheet here to
help get started. You can also download
the free NAIC myHOME Scr.APP.book app for iPhone®. The app guides you through
capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and storing them
electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a back-up file for e-mail
have completed the home inventory, talk with your agent to make sure your
homeowners or renter's policy is adequate to cover your new investments.
If you have
any questions about the coverages in your policy, or if you need help with a
problem regarding your claim following a disaster at your home, contact your
state insurance department. Click here to
quickly find their contact information.
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