Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane
The aftermath of a hurricane is something we all hope we never have to experience. However, if your home is damaged by a storm, knowing what to do in case you need to file an insurance claim can help ease some of the uncertainty you may be feeling as you begin to recover.
We understand the challenges you may be facing – which is why we’ve compiled our top hurricane insurance claims tips to help make the process of filing a claim a little smoother.
Tip #1: Contact Your Insurer as Soon as Possible (and Stay Safe)
Hurricanes are infamous for leaving behind messy damages. Even if you're handy around the house, things like fallen branches, exposed wires, and wet surfaces can make many repair jobs more hazardous than they look. Because of this, safety should be your #1 priority when once you’re able to return home after a storm.
Instead of rolling up your sleeves immediately, it's best to contact your insurer as soon as possible if you notice any damage to your property after the storm has passed. They will work with you to come up with a repair plan that complies with your insurance policy and safely gets your home back to working order. They can also get the ball rolling on reimbursing you for any losses like electronics, furniture, appliances, or other property damaged by the storm that needs to be replaced.
While it’s likely you have a lot on your plate right after a hurricane, keeping an open line of communication with your insurer can help make sure they have all the information needed to streamline your claims process and help get things back to normal.
Tip #2: Document the Losses for Your Claim
During the claims process, you will document all of the damages to your property—and the more details you can provide, the better your agent will be able to assist you. It will be important to list each damaged item, its estimated value, approximate date of purchase, and the type of damage sustained.
You can further supplement the written descriptions of your property by using your smartphone to take pictures of the damages.
For the best results, take well-lit photos of property damage from as many angles as you can. Stand further back to fit the entire subject within the frame, and then move nearer (while keeping your safety in mind) to get close-up shots of damaged areas or identifying details like brand names and model numbers.
All this visual evidence can go a long way toward completing your claim and getting an accurate reimbursement.
Tip #3: Know How Your Policy Handles Repairs
Waiting on insurance claims while your home is in disrepair is a difficult situation for anybody. It's only natural to want to start putting your home back together as soon as possible. But, did you know that the repairs you make to your home right after a hurricane could affect the outcome of your insurance claim?
Before starting any repairs, talk with your insurer. You might be able to make temporary fixes, like putting a tarp over the roof, but we recommend always checking with your insurer first to confirm it won’t affect your claim. They can help you determine what damages you can patch up now, what major repairs should wait until further along in the claims process, and what benefits in your policy may provide—like temporary relocation coverage—that can help make the recovery process easier for you and your family.
Tip #4: Keep Track of Receipts and Expenses
By keeping in touch with your insurer, you’ll be able to learn which types of expenses related to your hurricane recovery are covered by your policy. Every policy is different, but you might be surprised to learn that something like a hotel stay is covered if your home is not livable.
Hang on to all your receipts and work with your insurer to determine if any of your expenses can be added to your claim.
Once the storm has passed, the scary part is over. But we know there is often still a long road to recovery. By staying in touch with your insurer and remembering these tips, you'll be well on your way to recouping from any damage you may have sustained from the hurricane—and weathering any more that may come your way in the future.
For more information on hurricane preparation tips, download PTI’s 2020 Hurricane Preparedness Guide.