Tips To File An Insurance Claim
Hurricane Harvey has resulted in so much devastation for so many people in Texas. Officials are projecting $5 billion to $10 billion in property damage in areas affected, which will result in tens of thousands of insurance claims. Regular homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover wind and personal property damage but unfortunately does not cover ground water flood damage. For ground water flood damage, separate coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurance company is required. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does provide grants to victims, however, the amount provided is usually much less than what is needed to recoup your losses.
Contacting your insurance provider is one of the first steps you will need to take after the storm to make a claim. Here are some tips to file an insurance claim:
- Report your losses as soon as possible by calling your insurance company. Insurance companies usually access the most severely damaged areas first. Make sure to provide a detailed description of any loss and jot down your claim number as it’s the quickest and easiest way for insurance companies to pull up your file. Be prepared, it could take a week to 6 months to be contacted by an insurance adjuster, depending on the extent of damages from the storm. The insurance company will be able to give you a better time frame of when you can expect to be contacted by the insurance adjuster.
- Document everything – take pictures and video of the damage. Make a list of all personal items that have been damaged and include the purchase date and approximate value of those items and locate receipts, if possible.
- Jot down anything you spend to make immediate repairs to secure your home. Keep receipts for hotels and meal if you aren’t able to return to your home right away.
- Check with your insurance company before discarding any damaged item. Usually the insurance adjuster will need to see these. But if you are required to discard for safety reasons, make sure to document with photographs and video to help with insurance claims.
- Make a claim diary. Begin with the people you’ve been in contact with from your insurance company and include names and phone numbers, dates, times and issues discussed on every call.
- If your insurance company uses SMS/text alerts to notify you of the status of your claim, make sure you take advantage and sign up for these alerts. They will notify you when you first report your claim, when your estimate is available and when your payment has been sent to you.