Daily Archives: November 30, 2010

What to do if your house or property was damaged

If you were faced with a fire, hurricane, flood or other property damage, following these simple steps will make your life much easier and will help you get a fair settlement from your insurance company.

  1. After any calamity, the first thing to do is of course, is attend to the immediate needs of your family, making sure they are safe, have temporary housing, food and medicine.  Caution: do not attempt or let others enter your damaged property in the hope of rescuing possessions.  Even if the structure looks safe, fires may re-kindle, roofs could collapse, gas could leak, etc. Only after  your house was deemed safe, try to recover important documentation (driver licenses, SS cards, insurance information), valuables and essential items.
  2. Call your insurance company and let them know about the property damage. Try to make an appointment with the company’s claim adjuster as soon as possible.
  3. If you need to leave your house, contact the local police department to let them know, and try to secure your property to discourage looting.  Also, start saving receipts immediately, as you will need them to prove your losses to the insurance company.
  4. Call a Public Adjuster as soon as possible. Public Adjusters represent the interests of the policy holder, while the claim adjusters sent by your insurance company represent those of the insurance companies. The services that the Public Adjusters provide can be crucial for the success of your claim. In exchange a small percentage of the extra money they can recuperate, the Public Adjuster will assess damages, will take pictures and will estimate the cost of restoring your property. Also, the Public Adjuster will negotiate with the insurance company and handle all paperwork. Being represented by a Public Adjuster and knowing you have someone experienced working for you will relieve you of many time consuming details at such a difficult time, while also significantly increase your chances of a timely and fair settlement.  Let’s put it that way: you wouldn’t go to court without a proper attorney. It’s the same with your house insurance – you need a professional to represent your claim to the insurance company.
  5. Make an inventory of all damaged goods on the property and try to find the receipts for the items which were destroyed. Pictures of your undamaged home and possessions could also be useful.
  6. Important: Don’t start cleaning the house or repairing the damages until both your Public Adjuster and the insurance company’s Claim Adjuster visited the house and documented all damages.