Hurricanes

Protecting Yourself from Storm Damage Claims

What should homeowners and small business do to protect themselves financially from the billions of dollars in damages Hurricane Floyd is expected to leave in its wake? FreeAdvice.com offers the following suggestions to help homeowners and small businesses get all the insurance benefits they are entitled to:

Before the Storm:

  • Find your homeowners or business premises policy right away. Carry the policy number and the name, address and phone number of your agent and company with you.
  • Familiarize yourself with your policy. Make sure you are adequately covered and your premium payments are up to date. Check the exclusions and limitations, see http://law.freeadvice.com/insurance_law/property_insurance/ Even though you are in the track of the storm, it may not be too late to increase coverage or reinstate a policy.
  • Business owners should check to see if they are covered for steps they take to protect property in the face of imminent danger, and pay careful attention to business interruption coverages.
  • Now, before the storm, take photos or video tapes around your home (including what is in the drawers and closets) and grounds to have an inventory of your household and personal goods. This will help document any losses you should sustain. Keep the film, camera or photos in a protected place.

If you have Hurricane related damage:

  • Report claims to your insurance agent or company immediately. Apart from your duty to report losses promptly, see http://law.freeadvice.com/insurance_law/property_insurance/ you want to have someone attend to your claim right away.
  • Take photos or videotapes of all damage as soon as possible after the storm.
  • Make temporary repairs as quickly as possible after the storm to prevent further property damage; insurers won’t pay for post-storm damages you reasonably could have prevented.
  • Save all receipts of temporary and extra living expenses and repair and restoration work.
  • If an insurance company claims adjuster offers an immediate "on the spot payment" make certain that it is only an "advance" and not a final settlement.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to give the insurance company a "release". You may uncover serious damage you did not initially recognize.
  • If you feel your insurance company is not treating you fairly, be firm but polite. Take careful notes of who said what to you, and get the company to respond in writing. http://law.freeadvice.com/insurance_law/property_insurance/
  • Consider retaining a "public adjuster" or insurance-wise lawyer to assist you. They work for you, typically on a contingency basis. Unlike insurance company claims adjusters who are paid to keep claim costs down, public adjusters and lawyers seek to make sure you get all the benefits you have been paying for.
  • Your insurance company owes you a duty of good faith. If it wrongfully denies or low-balls your claim, it may be liable for both benefits due under your policy and punitive damages for bad faith. See http://law.freeadvice.com/insurance_law/insurers_bad_faith/