Processing claims for disaster and storm insurance can be a long, slow process, so it’s best to make certain you’re prepared and know all of the necessary steps ahead of time. As with any insurance claim scenario, preparation and knowing what to expect is half the battle- and the more prepared you are, the better chance you have of getting your claims processed as efficiently as possible. After suffering damages from a major storm event, the last thing you want to do is struggle to get the reimbursements you’ll need to move forward. 

By taking the proper precautions and following the appropriate steps in responding to and filing your claim, you’ll get the best results possible during what will be a trying time. So what do you need to make certain you do to get your claims filed and processed properly? Start by having already completed a home inventory. Before a storm or other major damage event, it’s critical that you have taken the needed steps to cover your personal property. Make sure your home inventory is complete, up-to-date, and stored somewhere safely outside your home. Having pictures and records of what the contents of your home were and what they looked like go a long way in helping to process any personal property damage claims. 

After the storm or other major event has occurred, it’s important to assess the damages to your home and property correctly and completely. When filing a claim, the first step is a complete evaluation of the damages sustained, with photographic evidence of the damages. Contact your insurer as soon as possible to inform them of the need to file a claim, and be sure that you give them all of the necessary information. It’s also wise to begin keeping a diary or record of everything related to your claim- names, dates, and times of whom you spoke with and what was discussed. Having as much accurate information as possible will go a long way in keeping the process on track. Also, make sure you check with your insurer before throwing away or removing any damaged materials. Your municipality may have regulations about when materials need to be removed, so be certain that you have taken photographs of everything as soon as possible beforehand as evidence of the damages. 

Reviewing your policy is the next step in making the claims process go smoothly. Once you have taken an accurate and complete survey of the damages, you can go through your policy to ascertain what is covered, familiarize yourself with the details, go through the deductibles, and recognize what is covered and what is not. In some cases, the value of the losses may not be above the deductible, and you will be responsible for the costs needed to repair your home. It’s also important to communicate with your insurance company. In times of disaster or a catastrophic event, your insurance company will likely send an assessor out to your property to assess the damages. You may also choose to contract a public adjuster, who will help you as a neutral party that works on your behalf. Public adjusters do not seek to protect the insurance company, but are more focused on a fair payout to the policy holder.

Finally, it’s imperative to understand whether the damages done to your home were sudden or accidental. Claims being successfully paid out are largely dependent on knowing the correct terminology, fair and complete coverage, communication with the insurance professionals, taking the appropriate steps, having records of everything as you move through the process, and assuring that the source of the damage was something beyond reasonable expectations of maintenance as a homeowner. Storm and disaster damage typically fall into these categories. Having proper documentation, correct assessments of the damages, and working with repair experts that are professional and fair is important as well. Be sure that should you have damage that occurs from a storm that has yet to be repaired, you take additional precautions if other weather events arise. In the event that you are waiting for an insurance adjuster to inspect your claim, make sure you take action to mitigate further damages, whether that is placing tarps or other temporary fixes, and again- document everything! Read your policy for specific duties and responsibilities you’re expected to adhere to if your planning to or have filed a storm damage insurance claim. 

 As always, communication with your insurance professional can be a lifesaver. When you are purchasing your policy, ask questions. Read and be knowledgeable about the policies you purchase. If you have questions about how to go about filing a claim, contact the pro who sold you your policy, and keep detailed information about every step of the claims process.