file a claim after a hurricane

How to File an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane

Hurricanes and other types of tropical storms can cause extensive damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles. If you live in an area prone to these natural disasters or are visiting during hurricane season, it’s important to understand your insurance policies and what kind of coverage they provide in the event of a storm. Prior to the onset of any hurricane season, you should be prepared with a plan for keeping yourself and your family safe. That way, if a natural disaster does strike your home or business, you’ll be better equipped to handle the financial repercussions with little stress or panic. Keep reading for some tips on how to file an insurance claim after a hurricane.

Check Your Insurance Coverage
Before you file any claims, you should know exactly what your policies cover. This can help you avoid missing any important coverage information, which may affect your claim. Most people have homeowners’ insurance and auto insurance, but you may have other policies as well. Make sure to contact your insurance provider to find out what types of coverage are included in your policies. Most companies provide an insurance coverage guide, and you can find these guides online as well.

Know Your Rights
If you file an insurance claim, you are legally entitled to benefits. However, you may run into trouble if you don’t know the process for filing a claim. Before you go to your insurer, you should know the following information: 

  • What types of damages you suffered (e.g., flooding, wind damage, etc.) 
  • Whether your damages are covered by your insurance policy 
  • Whether there is a deductible on your policy that you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket 
  • What documentation you’ll need to provide to your insurer 
  • How long it’ll take to process your claim. Hiring a professional restoration contractor to perform the damage inspection for roof leaks, flooding, and water damage is recommended because they will know what damage to look for and what documentation the insurance company requires.

File a Claim as Soon as Possible
Hurricanes bring heavy rain, damaging winds, and flooding. If your home gets flooded, the sooner you file a claim, the sooner you can get help with cleanup and repair. For wind damage, you should file a claim as soon as you can since some insurers have time limits on filing. For roof and property damage, file as soon as you can so you don’t forget important details. If you don’t file a claim, you could miss out on critical coverage. If you file a claim, you can get help with repairs, so you don’t have to pay out of pocket. If you don’t file a claim, you might not be able to get help with repairs at all.

Determine Whether You’ll Need Repairs or Replacement
After a hurricane, it’s important to first see whether your property or belongings can be repaired. Depending on the extent of the damage, repairs may be cheaper than replacement. You should also consider other factors, like how long it will take to repair your property and if you’ll need to hire a contractor. Some hurricane damage can be repaired, but other natural disasters can cause more extensive damage. Flooding, especially, can be tough to repair. Depending on how long it takes to repair your property, it might be cheaper to just replace it with new equipment or items.

Rebuilding vs. Restoration
There is a difference between repairing damage and restoring it to its original condition. When you repair damage, you typically do so with the same materials. Restoration on the other hand, is done with special materials that create the same look and feel as the original item. For example, if you have wooden floors that are damaged, you may be able to repair them by sanding and refinishing them. If the floors were made of a certain type of wood that isn’t available anymore, you may want to restore them with the same type of wood. This also comes into play when you’re deciding between repairing and replacing damaged furniture or appliances. Do you have the necessary tools and training to perform the repairs? Is the material you’d need still available? If not, you may want to replace the item entirely.

Tip: Hire Professional Cleaning and Repair Teams
If your home or business has been damaged by a hurricane, you’ll likely need professional cleaning and repairs. You may be able to get help from insurance companies, but it’s best to hire professionals for the job. Insurance companies typically offer what’s known as a “clean-up and repair” or “storm-recovery” service. This is usually a small crew of professionals who come out to your property and do the cleaning and repairs that are necessary. They can help you determine what needs to be replaced and what can be repaired. They can also help with the cleanup, which is important after a major storm. You don’t want to attempt to clean up a flooded house without the proper equipment.

During hurricane season, it’s important to be prepared and know how to file an insurance claim in the event that a storm damages your home or vehicle. This will help you get the repairs you need quickly, so you can get back to life as normal. Whether you need repairs or full replacement, you should file a claim as soon as possible so you can get help with cleanup and repairs.

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