Natural disasters are always stressful events – but if your home or business is damaged or destroyed by a major weather event, the experience can be absolutely overwhelming. In 2020 so far, there have been 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each. Even smaller disasters can wreak massive havoc on your life. The last thing you want to worry about are insurance claims and whether you received a fair settlement. Understanding your policy and knowing what to do will make a huge difference in how quickly you get your claim processed and get your life back on track. Here are some tips to maximize your insurance claim.
1. Take Inventory
In a perfect world, you’ll take a photo inventory of your property and belongings so you have them on hand if needed to show your pre-loss condition. We recommend doing this at least once a year. After a storm or natural disaster, create a detailed list of damaged or destroyed items. Make sure you have receipts and photos to back up your claim. Supply this to your Insurance Adjuster. If you have the pre-loss condition inventory list and photos, supply that as well. Check out Insurance Information Institute’s guide to creating an inventory list. Businesses can use this too!
2. Take Photos & Videos of Damage
If you have property damage, immediately document it with photos. Be sure to get a variety of angles. Video on your phone is also helpful. What you see today will be totally different from what you see tomorrow and certainly what you see in a week or two. As we recently saw with back-to-back hurricanes Laura and then Delta striking less than 20 miles apart just six weeks later, residents in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and surrounding areas were hit with a destructive one-two punch. The more photos and video you have to prove the damage, the easier the claim.
3. Document & Save Damaged Items
Be sure to save your damaged items until the Insurance Adjuster comes out. This serves as important evidence for your claim. Also, as noted above, be sure to take photos. The Insurance Adjuster has to see the detailed proof of the damage, so cleaning up without documentation can hurt your claim.
4. Mitigate Further Damage
If you have an emergency such as flooding, leaks, or a burst pipe, don’t wait for your Insurance Adjuster to come out and assess your property to get emergency repairs. Call your local, accredited contractor or restoration company to fix it, and be sure to save all of their assessments, photos, reports, detailed scope of work performed, and receipts. You can claim reimbursement for temporary repairs.
5. Obtain Property Repair & Restoration Estimates
Get multiple estimates from licensed, accredited general contractors for your repairs. We recommend getting 2-3 quotes. When deciding on the contractor, check their reviews, references, testimonials, workmanship, and accreditations. You can find out a lot about them with a quick Google search. Be sure to review their website carefully. A reputable company will have all of the above included on their website. Once you get estimates from vetted contractors, compare them with the Insurance Adjuster’s estimate. If the numbers are considerably different, it may be time to call in a Public Adjuster to advocate for a fair and balanced settlement on your behalf.
6. Document All Communications
Be sure to save all communications with your Insurance Company, Insurance Agent, Insurance Adjuster, General Contractor, and any other companies associated you’re your claim. Document your written correspondence, reports, and be sure to save voicemails, emails, and other updates. Save all reports and receipts.
7. Hire a Public Adjuster
If you want to be sure you receive a fair and balanced settlement, pull in a Public Adjuster (PA). A PA is a licensed and trained professional dedicated to maximizing your payment and ensuring a smooth claim process. The PA manages all aspects of your claim from start to finish, and works independently to negotiate fair and balanced settlements on your behalf, taking an enormous load off your shoulders. The PA reviews your policy, conducts damage assessments, property inspections, and gathers paperwork, reports, assessments, photos, and measurements to support your claim. PAs work with your Insurance Company, General Contractor, and any other relevant parties involved in your claim including Attorneys, Engineers, and Appraisers.
MITCHELL ADJUSTING: WE DO THE WORK, SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO
As licensed Public Adjusters with over 25 years of experience, our expert team at Mitchell Adjusting International, LLC is committed to advocating for property owners every step of the way through the insurance claim process. Whether you have a new claim, denied claim, or underfunded claim, we advocate on your behalf.