Insurance companies in the U.S. are bracing themselves for tens of thousands of claims relating to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey earlier this week.
Harvey, which has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, and the flooding that followed it, has caused almost $10 billion worth of damage to properties in Texas, according to early estimates.
As Realty Biz News reported yesterday, it’s likely that many homeowners will soon face up to the realization that their standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by flooding. However, there are still likely to be many thousands of homeowners who have additional protection against flood damages, either through the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurance firm.
For those who do have coverage, the following tips for filing an insurance claim should ensure that their applications are dealt with swiftly:
Contact your insurer immediately:
In most cases the insurance company will want to visit the damaged site in order to asses your claim. The first task for homeowners therefore is to contact their insurer and get a claim number, and then wait for the company to contact them.
Document your losses:
It’s a good idea to make a list of every item and part of the home that’s been damaged due to the storm. Taking photos or videos is also a good idea, as this helps to verify everything you’re claiming for. In addition, claimants should add to their list the date they purchased each item and its estimated value.
Keep a record of your spending:
No doubt most people will want to carry out repairs as soon as possible, assuming they can afford to do so before getting any money back from the insurance company. As such, it’s a good idea to keep receipts for this repair work as evidence of the costs involved. For those whose homes have been left uninhabitable, they should keep receipts for hotels and meals while they’re away, as they may also be able to claim the costs of this.
Ensure all your communications are in writing:
Any communications with the insurance firm, the adjuster, contractors and other relevant parties should be recorded in writing. Also make sure to record the dates and times, and details of any phone conversations. When asking for cost estimates especially, these should always be written.
Keep track of your claim with text alerts:
Most insurance companies offer text alerts as a standard way of updating customers on the status of their claims. An alert will be sent out when your claim is first submitted, when your estimate is available, and when payment has been sent out.