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How to Navigate Your Insurance Process After a Disaster

Did your property undergo major damage after a disaster? The next step is the insurance process, which can be a hassle.

However, you can make the process easier by documenting the damage effectively, making small repairs, finding the right contractor, hiring a lawyer, and hiring an independent adjuster.

That said, not all of these steps will guarantee smooth sailing. However, these measures can hasten the process and ensure you get just compensation. Additionally, invoking an insurance claim may not be the best option, depending on your circumstance.

This article will provide an in-depth view of the insurance claims process. Read further to know more.

Car Under Water

Know What Your Policy Covers

Your insurance company won’t cover all disasters. If you’re dealing with a flooded home, for example, a homeowners insurance company won’t cover flooding.

Instead, you’ll need a separate flood policy. You’ll also need a separate policy for earthquakes. Homeowners insurance will typically cover the following:

• Explosions
• Volcanic eruptions
• Lightning damage
• Storm damage
• Falling objects
• Fire damage
• Smoke damage

 

Moreover, the type of coverage is based on what type of policy you have. For example, some insurance companies will only cover the depreciated value of your lost or damaged items. This means you’ll get less than you originally paid for.

Conversely, other policies will compensate you based on the original value of the lost items. That said, items covering the original value may be more expensive. Refer to your insurance policy to see what type of coverage applies to you.

Gather Evidence

To win your claim effectively, you’ll need as much physical evidence as possible. To bolster your case, take photos or videos of the damage. Also, provide details regarding what happened and how the damage occurred.

Note the events in detail while your memory is fresh. Over time, you may fail to remember key details that could have strengthened your case. The insurance companies will also refer to your notes during their investigation, expediting your case in the process.

Make Repairs

You must also demonstrate that you took the necessary steps to mitigate damage. For example, mitigation may include small repairs or removing certain items from a property.

If your home sustained roof damage from a fire, for example, you should remove all items from the home to prevent the items from incurring water damage in the event of rain.

If your property poses a hazard to others, board up the windows and/or set up a fence to block entry. Also, a dilapidated home may attract looters and thieves.

That said, you shouldn’t make permanent repairs, as the insurance company must assess the original damage. After making the necessary repairs, save all receipts, and include them in your claim.

Failure to take these steps may result in a lower claim or an outright dismissal.

Is Filing the Best Step?

In some cases, invoking your insurance policy after a disaster may be counterintuitive. If you didn’t sustain major damage, it may not be worth the effort.

Your insurance rates could increase if you use your policy. Therefore, only use your policy if it’s absolutely necessary.

Also, consider the cost of your deductible. If the deductible is pricier than the actual cost of the damage, filing isn’t worth it.

Finding a Contractor

Depending on your insurance carrier’s guidelines, you may have to find a contractor on your own. If you do, look for the following qualities in a contractor:

• They should have positive online reviews.
• They should be licensed and insured.
• They should have reasonable rates.

 

When it comes to the best rates, consult with multiple contractors to compare the best prices. Moreover, be wary of the insurance company if reps prefer a particular contractor.

The provider may choose a contractor who will cut corners to save money. Therefore, insist on your own contractor if you don’t feel comfortable using one chosen by an insurance provider.

Regardless of your choice, never pay the contractor upfront before they perform their duties. Instead, you can portion the money as the contractor completes the work.

Claims Adjusters

After filing a claim, an insurance adjuster will arrive and survey the damage. Insurance adjusters aren’t on your side.

They’re in the business of saving money on behalf of their employers. This means lowering your payouts or getting your claim rejected altogether.

How to Navigate Your Insurance Process After a Disaster

Also, adjusters may try to trap you into an official story, allowing them to minimize or deny your claim. Therefore, it’s best to avoid talking to insurance adjusters.

You should only talk to them under the guidance of an attorney. An attorney can guide you through the insurance claim process and maximize your payouts via extensive negotiations.

In addition to an attorney, you should also hire your own claims adjuster. Further, you should hire your own adjuster as early as possible.

When it comes to smoke damage insurance claims, for example, it helps to have an independent adjuster who can verify the claims of the insurance adjuster. Hiring your own adjuster will also help you determine the worth of all damaged or lost items.

Is the Insurance Process Worth the Hassle?

The insurance process is worth the hassle if you incurred major damage. If you have minimal damage, or if your deductible is high, filing an insurance claim may not be worth the effort.

If you file, gather strong physical evidence for your case. Moreover, be skeptical of contractors hired by insurance companies, including insurance adjusters. To get the best payout possible, hire a lawyer and/or hire an independent adjuster.

Interested in reading more? Read more on our blog to gain insight into other topics.

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