Storm & Insurance Claim Preparation



STORM & INSURANCE CLAIM PREPARATION

 

BEFORE THE STORM

 

  Take photos or video of all rooms, the sides of your home and any expensive personal items.

  Store photos on a portable device and/or in the cloud.

  If you have time to evacuate, take files containing the homeowner’s and flood policies with you.

  Place plywood or waferboard over any windows and doors and take photos whenever possible. Some insurance policies require homeowners to take some precautionary measures.

  Take photos and report any price gouging to your Attorney General.

 

AFTER THE STORM

 

Document Your Loss

 

  Take photos or video of damage.

  Compile an inventory of damaged personal property items, including the age, approximate value, and description of each item. If you have receipts for any damaged items, gather and save them.

  Make emergency repairs. Do what is necessary to secure your property and prevent further damage but notify your insurer before making any major repairs (if possible).

  Save all estimates, receipts, invoices, cancelled checks, and credit card statements documenting the value of the repairs and what you spend to make them.

  Obtain written proof of payment from your contractor for labor and materials.

  Take photographs and videos of the repairs periodically during reconstruction.

  You are entitled to retain your own experts, advisors, adjusters, estimators, and engineers – professionals who can help document your claim and advocate for you.

  Submit your Proof of Loss to your insurer within the required timeframe.

  Even after you have submitted your Proof of Loss to the insurance company, you may be able to submit supplemental documentation and seek additional payment.

 

Review Your Insurance Coverage

 

  Review each of your insurance policies to see if they may cover some or all of your damage. Pay attention to coverage limits and deductibles as well as peril-specific exclusions (such as wind or flood exclusions).

 

Notify Your Insurance Companies

 

  Reach out to relief organizations that may be able to help you with clean-up, repair, and rebuilding.

  Notify all potentially responsive insurance carriers – some of the damage may have been caused by wind (homeowner’s insurance/wind-only policy and some by water (flood policy)).

  Keep a record of the date you provided notice to each insurer.

  Keep a log of your calls with the insurance company. Save emails and letters and write down all information given to you over the phone.

  Follow up with your insurance company if you do not receive a timely response.

  The insurance company representative (e.g., claims handler, adjuster) may be friendly, but he or she is paid by the insurance company and is not your advocate.

 

Get Information from Your Insurance Companies

 

  You are entitled to a copy of your insurance policy. If you ask for it, the insurance company must provide it.

  Request a copy of your insurance adjuster’s estimate and photos as well as a copy of the insurance company’s engineering report (if applicable).

  Demand a timeline from the insurance companies. Your insurance company must complete certain tasks related to your claim within a given timeframe.

 

RESOURCES

 

Storm Victim’s Guide used by WMC Counsel Jim Hood while serving as Mississippi Attorney General from 2004-2020 and developed during Katrina recovery. It provides tips on how to protect yourself from scam repair artists and an example home repair contract.

 

FEMA Assistance: Go to DisasterAssistance.gov for information and to apply for assistance. Under “Help,” the “Contact Us” page has a section for Disaster Fraud. Call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS 1-800-621-3362, TTY 1-800-462-7585) 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Find a Disaster Recovery Center at www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by texting DRC and a zip code to 43362.

 

Ready.Gov/Hurricanes: Tips and links for pre/post storm safety from the Department of Homeland Security.

 

American Red Cross: Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for resources and assistance. On their webpage, hover over “Get Help” and click on “Disaster Relief & Recovery Services.” Scroll down to “Hurricane” in the Emergency Resource Library for shelter location, local Red Cross contact information, and other resources. Click on “Latest News” in the “About Us” menu for more articles on topics ranging from preparedness on flash flooding to the Red Cross’ relief plan updates.

 

American Red Cross Safe and Well: To check on family and friends, visit www.safeandwell.org. Contact info above.

 

National Weather Service: Hurricane safety tips, updates and resources are available at: https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane. Go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, www.noaa.gov, and under “Find your local weather,” type in your city and state to “See the full local forecast,” storm information and additional updates.

 

2-1-1: A phone number that provides a free and confidential service to help callers find local resources. 2-1-1 is available 24/7. Call 2-1-1 or visit www.211.org to find a local 2-1-1 provider.

 

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans for businesses, homeowners, renters, and most private nonprofit organizations. To apply or for more information, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY/TDD: 1-800-877-8339) or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

These materials are for informational purposes and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.