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Hurricane Prep
Insurance
Tips + Tricks
Adjusting

How to Prepare for an Insurance Claim as a Policyholder

February 15, 2022

November 23, 2021

Home and property storm preparations should begin long before the hurricane season starts. There are many benefits and fewer headaches when everything is in order before these storms hit. If or when you need to evacuate, there will be less you’ll have to worry about when you’re away from home.

As much as we want to give you a step-by-step guide on filing your claim, every insurance company is different, so always make sure to double check with their policies.

You can help your claims process go smoother. It all starts with preparing for storm seasons and severe weather in advance.

Keep your receipts.

Can it be a headache to store those receipts for items in your home? Yes, but you can simplify it by saving your receipts in a  box or safe to take with you if you need to evacuate (make sure you label these with the item you purchased, as store codes for items on a receipt may not be clear in a few months, or even years). You could also scan these receipts and store them on a digital cloud service to ensure they don’t fade or get damaged. Keep the receipts for your big ticket items such as TVs, laptops, gaming systems, important pieces of artwork, home appliances, smaller appliances, furniture, clothing items or accessories, etc.

Pro tip: Take a highlighter and highlight the important items on the receipt. This will help your insurance claim if the item is damaged. You want the estimated damage to be as accurate as possible because a few hundred dollars can make a huge difference!

Store important documents, family photos, sentimental items, or anything else of importance in a safe area.

Get a few plastic boxes that are airtight and can prevent any water from seeping through or a waterproof safe. If you're in a flood zone, try to put these in the highest—or safest—area you can think of. Even better, take them with you if you have the extra room when you're evacuating. Again, it’s a great idea to scan these to a cloud-based service in addition to keeping these documents in a safe place. Some items to include are insurance policies, deeds, lease or renters agreements, vehicle registrations and proof of purchase, social security cards, marriage certificates, adoption paperwork, and any other documents to prove ownership or identity. Don’t forget vaccination records for any pets.

It is always a great idea to take plenty of photos of the exterior and interior of your home before a storm hits. These before and after photos will ensure higher accuracy with your claim. You can also take a video of your house which can be used for your claim. Walk through your home yearly and video the contents of each room and capture serial numbers and model names on items if you can.

Do some prep work on your home before storms.

  • Place sandbags around your home's entrances to defend against flooding.
  • Turn off water to your home if you’ll be away for an extended time during cold weather (not just inside, turn it off at the street, too).
  • Keep your car in the garage in case there's hail forecasted.
  • Board up and tape off your windows, as small shards of glass can be especially hard to clean up. Tape can manage the spread of glass (not stop it from breaking) and coverings will help protect your windows. Consider hurricane shutters or hurricane fabric; both are great options and perform better than plywood.
  • Take photos of your perishable foods and throw them out if you plan to evacuate. These perishable foods may be covered by your insurance if the power goes out and these goods spoil.
  • Prepare your receipts and important documents for travel.
  • Get rechargeable batteries or power banks charged! This will keep your phone charged and ready to use if power access is limited.
  • Lastly, if you can afford a generator, it may be worth it. Hurricane season is around some of the hottest months of the year; having power can provide you with some relief and keep necessary medications cold.  The same goes for winter storms, as having heat is essential for at-risk age groups when temperatures are freezing.

NEVER clean up the damage at your home.

Do not clean or fix anything unless absolutely necessary. If you must do some clean up, document everything in great detail — with photos! Make sure to take an excessive amount of photos at every angle prior to removal or clean up of any damage. Keep detailed receipts and contracts for the cost of clean up. Also, do not let contractors be your liaison — YOU should be the point of contact between any contractors and your insurance company/adjuster. This will help your insurance adjuster assess the damage and quote the right price for your claim.

For other damaged areas of your home, you can put up temporary structures to prevent further damage to your home. An example would be a tarp over a hole in your roof, taping up windows, etc., but no permanent structure changes until your adjuster gives you the green light!

Be ready to communicate with your adjuster.

After a major storm your insurance adjuster might be getting claims coming in non-stop. When they give you a call or send an email, be ready to answer as soon as possible. This will help them manage your claim quickly so that you can get your house back together. You may even be in a different state than your adjuster, so be aware of the time differences, make sure the adjuster knows your situation, and communicate! Right after a storm, power lines will be down and it may be very hard to get connected with people. Give your adjuster a few options when trying to reach you. Maybe a neighbor has a working phone or computer, and emailing is a great option, too. Just be ready when they are trying to contact you. We know things will be hectic right after the storm and you probably have a lot to do, but make sure that communicating with your adjuster is one of your top priorities!

Takeaway

Following these tips will help you file your claim, help your claims adjuster assess the damage accurately, and get your claim settled quickly.

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