What should I know about filing property damage claims?
In order to make an insurance claim you must do the following:
- Give prompt notice of the loss to your insurance company. You can do this by phone, in writing, or in person. Keep a written or electronic record of all communications with your insurer.
- Show proof of property ownership and damage and be able to document what you lost and what it was worth. Receipts and photographs are the best evidence of your claim. Make a list of all damaged and lost items while fresh in your mind. Keep a running list of all additional expenses incurred as a result of the damage.
What are some things the insurance company may not tell me?
- If you need to stay at a hotel or buy food because your home is not fit to live in due to hurricane damage, most policies will provide reimbursement.
- Removal of trees and other debris may be paid for by your insurer.
- If someone else’s tree did damage to your home or property, your insurance should cover the cost of repair.
- Damage to your car should be covered by your auto insurance.
- If you replace any damaged property – such as your TV, computer, DVD player, etc. – your insurer should pay for the full cost of replacement.
What should I do after a hurricane or windstorm?
- Report your loss promptly to your agent or the insurance company. Keep a written record of the contact.
- Take lots of pictures of the damage to the home and the contents.
- Make a list of items that were in your home that were damaged, cannot be found or were destroyed.
- Keep receipts for all hurricane related expenses.
- Locate your homeowner insurance policy or request a copy from your agent or insurance company.
- Keep written records of any contact with your insurance company, the adjuster or the agent.
- Make a folder and save all communications and documents you receive from your insurance company, the adjuster or the agent.
- Return to your home only after the authorities have indicated it is safe to do so.
What else should I think about after a hurricane or windstorm?
- Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the Power Company, police, or fire department.
- Enter your home with caution. Beware of snakes, insects, and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
- Use telephone only for emergency calls.
- If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window, quickly leave and call the gas company.
- If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires turn off the electricity at the main breaker.
- If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first.
- Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect damage avoid using the toilets and call a plumber.
- If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid the water from the tap.
- Boil water before using or obtain safe water by melting existing ice cubes.
Should I begin repairing damages myself, or should I wait for the adjuster first?
Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Also save the receipts for supplies and materials you buy to give copies to your insurance company. It will reimburse you for reasonable expenses.
What should I do next?
Get a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
What proof do I need to replace my normal household goods, such as TV’s, appliances, and furniture?
As for ordinary business items like furniture and fixtures there is coverage but it will go easier if you have receipts or proof of what you had before the hurricane. You likely won’t get an argument if you say you had a few computers or types of machinery, but if you try to claim that you just had your entire store redone last month with top-of-the-line fixtures, be prepared to provide receipts or documentation from your suppliers.
How do I get reimbursed for items like jewelry, artwork, furs and antiques?
Problems can arise when the claim is for unusual items like jewelry, artwork, furs, and antiques without receipts or documentation. You should have separate insurance riders for expensive items, and appraisals for unique or valuable items such as works of art. Receipts and appraisal documentation belong in your safe deposit box.
Does the contractor who fixes my home need workers’ compensation insurance?
Yes. If a worker is injured on your property you may be liable for his injuries if the contractor doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance.
What Does My Homeowners’ Insurance Cover?
Homeowners’ Insurance can be different for every home but the basic coverage’s are:
- Coverage A – Dwelling (Home)
- Coverage B – Other Structures (Garage, Pool Screen)
- Coverage C – Personal Property (Furniture, Clothes, Electronics)
- Coverage D – Alternative Living Expenses / Loss of Use (Living Elsewhere While Home is Fixed)
If your home is damaged or destroyed and the damage is covered under your homeowner’s insurance, you may have to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired. In that case, you’re likely to incur additional living expenses. If you’re renting out a room in your house and sustain insured damages to your home, additional-living-expense coverage often pays for the loss of rental income. However, this coverage is limited to the reasonable amount of time it would take for the residence premises to be repaired or, if relocating, a reasonable amount of time for the insured to become settled at a new location. This portion of the loss of use coverage is generally referred to as additional living expense or ALE.
Helpful Links and Websites
Fema.gov (FEMA – 1-800-621-3362)
Floodsmart.gov National Flood Insurance Program
Floridadisaster.org Florida Division of Emergency Management
Figafacts.com Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA 904-398-1450)