Filing an Insurance Claim After Natural Disasters

As Hurricane Florence leaves a path of destruction through North Carolina, many are left trying to figure out how to begin the chore of cleaning up and repairing their property.

Insurance companies have already sent claims teams to the affected areas to help customers to get the process of filing a claim started so customers can get the money to repair their property in a timely manner, but it’s hard to know where to start.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file an insurance claim following a hurricane or flood:

1. It is important to file the claim with your insurer as soon as possible. Thousands of people
will be filing claims, they are generally handled first come, first serve. Be persistent, but also
patient.

2. The Insurance Information Institute, suggests you make temporary repairs to your home if
they are needed to protect it from further damage. Save the receipts for supplies so you
can turn them in for reimbursement.

3. Make a list of damaged items you can give to the adjuster and take photos or video of the damaged property.

4. Once you are able to speak to an insurer, you will need to ask these questions:

• Is the damage you described covered under the terms of your policy?
• How long do you have to file a claim?
• How long will it take to process the claim?
• Do you need estimates for repairs?

5. After you file the claim, be sure to write down your claim number and keep it handy for
easy reference.

6. When the insurance company sends out an adjuster, ask if he/she is an employee of the
insurance company or an independent adjuster. If an independent adjuster, ask if they are
authorized to make claim decisions and payments on behalf of your insurance company
and ask for the name of the in-house company adjuster to whom the independent adjuster
will be sending your information.

7. When you speak to your insurer, record the day and time of the conversation and with
whom you spoke. Take notes about what is said and if any monetary amounts are
mentioned.

8. If you don’t have flood insurance, call your home insurer anyway. Some homeowner
policies that exclude damage related to flooding may cover damage from water and wind
damage.

9. Damage to your car from downed trees and flooding should be covered by the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance.

10. Be wary of strangers who come to your door claiming to be insurance adjusters or contractors offering to do repairs, and beware of Robocalls asking for insurance payments or personal information.

11. Do not throw out damaged items. You want an adjuster to see them first.

12. If you are unable to live in your home and must stay elsewhere, keep all receipts for any
living expenses – hotel rooms, food, and other costs of evacuation. Most homeowner
policies that cover windstorm damage will cover those costs.

13. If you have no insurance, you can register for federal disaster relief at
DisasterAssistance.gov. You do that by downloading the FEMA mobile app or by calling
1-800-621-3362.

Here are some other useful websites:

Financial assistance after a disaster: www.usa.gov/disaster-financial-help

North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund:  http://www.nccommunityfoundation.org/section/funds/disaster-relief

Disaster Recovery Center Locator: https://egateway.fema.gov/ESF6/DRCLocator

 

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