Be prepared to explain any special needs that require you to receive priority.
When a major storm passes, companies and people start to file insurance claims to cover damage to businesses, homes and autos.
Whether reporting over the phone or through a mobile device, the Insurance Information Institute, based in New York, suggests these steps.
Contact your insurance agent/carrier as soon as possible to begin the claims process.
Provide your insurance agent or insurance carrier with your policy number and the best phone number and email address where you can be reached.
After a major storm, insurers visit those with the most severe damage first.
Be prepared to provide an accurate description of the extent of the property damage.
Explain any special needs of your family, particularly if personal circumstances require that you receive priority.
Ask your insurer when you can expect to be contacted by an insurance adjuster, so you are ready for the visit.
Since adjusters may be in areas in which cellphone towers are damaged, it is important to have the phone number of the adjuster’s supervisor, so you have an additional contact.
If you have a flood insurance claim, contact the agent or broker who sold you the flood policy to start the claims-filing process.
Document your loss.
The insurance adjuster most likely will inspect the damage to your home or business facility, auto and possessions so the adjuster can write a check to help you replace, repair and rebuild. Take photos and/or video and document the details of damaged areas of your property and damaged items, including the date of purchase and approximate value, and collect receipts, if you have them. Many insurance companies will ask you to submit an inventory of the damaged items.
Check with your insurer before discarding damaged items and materials.
You will generally need to show storm-damaged items to your adjuster to have your policy cover the loss. If you are required by your local municipality to discard them for safety reasons, take photographs or video to help with the claims process.
Sign up for SMS/text alerts.
Many insurance companies use SMS/text message alerts that will notify you of the status of your claim. You will receive text messages on your phone when you first report your claim, when your estimate is available and when a payment has been sent.
Know what emergency services are available.
If you need emergency services, such as removing water from your home or business, covering your roof, or boarding up windows or doors, many companies will send an approved emergency services company to protect your home from further damage. If your home has sustained severe damage, making it unlivable, your homeowners’ insurer will provide you with a check for additional living expenses.
Keep a claims diary.
Good record-keeping is important when filing an insurance claim. Make a list of everyone you speak to about your claim. Note their name, title and contact information. Also, keep track of the date, time and the issues discussed. The better organized you are, the simpler and easier the claims process will be.