~Repost from one of our corporate sponsors 

Please use this check list for a hurricane insurance claim. I had significant damage to my home after Hurricane Charley. I wish I would have had this list then.  Jeff Tumbarello

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: assess for safety.

First thing, assess the property to ensure it is safe to access.  If you see  standing water then proceed with caution or not at all. In our case during Hurricane Charlie, we left the property when the standing water began after the roof began to fail.

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: document.

The first thing you should do is take an inventory of property. Take video/pictures via your smart phone, take note and detail which components of your property were damaged. Also, make a detailed list in writing. Take special note of your electronics, major appliances, and furniture. Taking pictures or video is the best practice here, having a visual record of the damage and repairs needed, will help the insurance claims process move smoothly. Also, if you did a video and/or pictures before the storm (your best practice) the comparison of the two will help the claim to progress.

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: secure

As the property owner, it is your duty to ensure no further damage is caused in your property. Moisture is your properties worst enemy, so make temporary repairs to avoid mold and mildew. Cover and patch holes in the roof. Secure broken windows so looters or additional weather does not cause more damage. If the storm caused missing shingles on the roof, make sure you mitigate the damage by installing tarps to protect the property from further damage and water/moisture intrusion. Save all of your receipts in relation to this. I cannot stress this enough, make sure you save everything.  Also if you evacuate, record your mileage.

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: file your claim

File a claim as soon as you can! Get in contact with your agent or your insurance provider company to begin a claim. Permit the insurers adjuster reasonable access to inspect and review the damaged property or records relevant to your claim. The faster they obtain access, the faster the checks will begin to come. Do not begin cleanup, repairs or throw anything away until you notify your insurance company! They will tell you want you can and cannot do.

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: keep good records.

If your home is uninhabitable, keep record of any living expenses that may be reimbursed. Without receipts, you will not be able to collect any loss of use coverage throughout the time the house is uninhabitable.

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: hire well

Once the clean up and rebuilding begins: Only hire licensed contractors to perform the work. I cannot say this enough. I chipped out a 1,000 Sq Ft of new tile laid by a handyman I hired once. Also, call and get estimates first. Prices will begin to rise as the rebuilding volume begins to affect the market… Also, offer to pay the contractors quickly, they will perform your work first, as many need to build up an operating reserve.

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: be aware of what you are signing.

Beware of signing a contract with an “assignment of benefits” (or AOB) clause this gives the contractor the rights and proceeds of your insurance claim.

The adjustor that the insurance company sends out is not on your side. Make sure you have your own records and documentation. I hired my own adjustor after Hurricane Charlie. They got me an additional $30,000. I have had two major real estate related insurance claims. A partial loss due to Hurricane Charlie and a total loss where a rental property we owned burnt down. The partial losses are trickier and very subjective. Make sure you know what you are doing or get someone involved who does.

Check list for a hurricane insurance claim: keep perspective.

In the end, it’s only stuff. You will rebuild and life goes on.

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