Disaster Recovery - Picking up the pieces.
The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but it is important that you focus on filing your insurance claims as quickly as possible. While flooding damage is primarily covered only if you have a flood insurance policy, some claims could relate to wind and tree damage. Here are some important steps to follow.
Contact your insurance company immediately to report your loss and file a claim. If you have flood insurance, start by calling your insurance agent. The agent will prepare a "Notice of Loss" form and an adjuster will be assigned to assist you. Ask for a timeline on when your agent can help you. If you can find your insurance policy, review it so that you understand what is covered.
Take photographs/video before clean-up or repairs. If you have already taken your damaged items out of the house – take pictures of the debris before you dispose of it. After you’ve documented the damage, make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage. Do not make any permanent repairs before the adjuster is able to inspect the damage and your carrier approves the repairs.
Save all receipts. Keep a diary of all discussions with your agent or carrier. Cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim.
Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need or your claim may be delayed in processing.
Filing an appeal. If your claim is denied, review the terms of your policy for what is or is not covered. You may also file an appeal to your insurance company’s claim manager. If questions remain, you should contact the Insurance Department.
Be Careful. Natural disasters can be a magnet for scam artists. Be wary of anyone who knocks at your door and offers to do your home repairs. Take these steps to protect yourself.
Be sure you are working with a reputable, dependable contractor. Home-improvement contractors that do more than $5,000 of business per year in Pennsylvania must register with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau.
Investigate the performance of any firm you are thinking of hiring and get more than one estimate for your loss.
Check references, licensure and get everything in writing.