How to File an Insurance Claim after a Hurricane or Other Natural Disaster

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Act fast so you can protect your money. | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

After a natural disaster, you’re likely overwhelmed and concerned about your property. Experiencing a situation like this can be disconcerting. Another thing you’re probably concerned about is filing an insurance claim. Not to worry, we’ll offer tips on how to navigate the process.

Here’s how to file an insurance claim after a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Contact the insurance company

Get in touch with the insurance company as soon as possible. After a natural disaster, insurance companies are often flooded with claims. The longer you wait, the longer it will take for your claim to be processed.

You’ll want to get answers to a few important questions. One thing you’ll want to know is if the damage will be covered under the terms of your insurance policy. You’ll also want to know how much time you have to file an insurance claim. Also find out if your claim will surpass your deductible.

Find out what your policy includes

If your home is badly damaged or destroyed, you will need to secure housing. Find out if your policy includes temporary living expenses. Most home insurance plans will distribute money for food, housing and transportation if you can’t live in your home.

Document lost items

You’ll need to make a record of all the lost and damaged items so you can be properly reimbursed. Start by making a list of items that were lost or damaged. Provide a copy of your list to the claims adjuster in addition to a copy of your receipts. Although you might want to clear out some things from your home, you should wait to discard damaged items until after you receive a visit from the adjuster. A way to document lost items is to make a video or take a photograph of what was lost or destroyed.

Get ready for your appointment with the insurance adjuster

You might get a proof of loss form to from your insurance company or an insurance adjuster might first come to your home. He or she will assess the damage to your home. Make sure to gather enough information about the property damage so you can quickly settle your insurance claim. Describe the damaged item, when you purchased it, and how much repairs would cost.

Make repairs

One thing you want to prevent is additional damage to your home. Work on stopping or at least slowing down damage from the natural disaster by making a few repairs. Take time to save receipts from purchases you made for home repairs and send them to your insurance company, so you can get reimbursed.

A few things to keep in mind

If you make temporary repairs don’t forget that the repairs will be included as part of the total settlement. If you pay a large amount of money for temporary repair work, there might not be enough left over for you to get reimbursed for permanent home repairs. Also keep in mind it’s best to wait to have extensive permanent repairs made until the damage has been assessed by the claims adjuster.

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