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Hurricane And/or Catastrophe Insurance Claim Preparation And Return

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First, always take photos of EVERYTHING and videos if you have time. Photograph an overview of the exterior of your house, your fences, your trees, and outside structures like sheds, barns, or pool shacks. If you have outdoor sheds, take photos of the items in the shed. These items are commonly referred to as “contents”. If there is a model/serial number on a tool/appliance/electronic item, snap that too because the insurance company will want the make, model, and serial of what you may lose in the big storm.

Second, inside of your home – photograph every room up and down. Then, make sure you shoot the appliances/electronics and obtain model/serial number. The, take photos of the inside of your cabinets; your cookware, serving pieces/plates, flatware, baking ware, small appliances, blenders everything! Be sure to also take photos of the clothes and shoes in your dressers and closets. Also take photos of the items or food in your refrigerator and freezer. Please do not rely on your memory when trying to prove to the insurance company what you owned prior to losing everything in the hurricane. That will only hurt your recovery.

Third, after the loss, please read and re-read any and every contract put in front of you by a contractor – mitigation company, roofer, tree service. You should hire a lawyer to review these types of contracts because many home rebuilders, mitigation companies, or otherwise will try to get you to sign a direct pay authorization. This means that the company can come into your home, potentially do a terrible job, and then directly pay your insurance company for thousands of dollars. That would be allowing these companies to control your insurance claim, not you. After the loss, always call your insurance company to file your claim as soon as possible. The insurance company should immediately assign you an adjuster from an outside independent insurance adjusting company to inspect your home. You should be courteous to this person, and allow them access to anything and everything on the lot. But, make sure to get their full name, address, and their insurance adjusting license number. If they are not licensed in the State, then, get their insurance credentials from whatever state they originate.

Post storm, when you return from your evacuation, take the time to write down the items and property that is damaged and do more pictures. Inspect your home for damages both inside, outside, in the attic spaces, underground (if applicable), and see if anything is wet. If you had roofing damages, you will probably see dislodged shingles on your lawn or somewhere near your property. Also, check your windows for breakage and leaks. Check your ceilings for water stains; turn the lights off and use a flashlight to find them easier. If you have an active roof leak, The Army Corps of Engineers normally go neighborhood to neighborhood to offer tarping services for free but they will be backed up in any large scale catastrophe. However, be mindful about hiring joe-blow, fly by night contractors that do not have any local address in your area. I always recommend you hire people that live within your vicinity because you will be able to contact them in the event of a problem or issue.

Finally, save all of your receipts especially during any evacuation. Your insurance policy will cover your evacuation costs in most circumstances including hotel stays, gas, and excess food supplies. If you pay out of pocket for any service (tarping, tree service, drying out, debris removal, etc.), keep those receipts and give them to your adjuster.

Everything we have told you to save above can be easily saved into an online data storage place like Google Drive, Dropbox, or something else. It takes very little time to set up that type of online cloud backup drive. Then, you will be easily able to send the required information to your insurance company after the hurricane.

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