_____Buy a notebook or binder to keep all of your documents regarding your claim in one place. When going through the claims process, it is critical that you keep organized records of everything that occurs.
Make sure there is some type of written documentation of everyone you talked to or communicated with regarding your claim. Written documentation—rather than a person’s memory—prevents any misunderstanding and serves as the best evidence of what occurred between you and someone else.
_____ Homeowners Policy, Renters Policy, Business Policy, Windstorm Policy, Flood Policy — You need to locate each policy that may apply – homeowners, renters, business, windstorm, flood — including the declaration page (i.e. the page that tells you the type and how much coverage you have). Please note that flood and windstorm policies have special rules and deadlines, which can be traps if you do not submit your claim correctly.
_____ Read your policies—Reading and understanding your policy is extremely important. First, all policies have certain rules that you must adhere to when filing a claim. Second, understanding the type of coverage available to you under your policy is one of the best ways to make sure that you are treated fairly. Third, your policy may have provisions that provides for immediate financial assistance with food and shelter expenses.
_____ Notify all of your Insurance Companies of your claim. Here it is important to notify each company that may be responsible for providing coverage for the loss you have sustained. This notice will start the claims process. Each insurance company will conduct its own investigation into your loss and will provide you with a report or estimate regarding your loss.
_____ Gather information and documentation regarding your loss. The insurance company will require that you provide some type of documentation to support your claim of loss. So after you have put your insurance companies on notice, you should start gathering as many photographs and videos that depict your home or business and its contents before Hurricane Harvey. Also, any old receipts or written descriptions of the contents or make up of your home or business will be helpful for you when making your claim. The best way to document the loss of your contents is to go room by room listing out each and everything that was in the room and the estimated value of the same, the cost, when it was purchased and where you purchased it.
_____Document what your home or business looks like after the storm. As soon as it is safe to do so, take photographs and video of your home or business and the damage sustained as a result of the storm.
_____Once it is safe to do so and to the extent possible, make temporary repairs to your home or business to prevent further damage. These repairs could include boarding up a window, draining standing water, and/or covering up a hole in your roof. If you fail to make these repairs, your insurance company may try to claim that some of the damage could have been prevented and that they should not have to pay.
_____Keep a record of all money you spend. Money for food, housing and repairs may be reimbursable under your policy, but to get reimbursed you will need written proof of what you spent. Along these lines, itemized receipts are always better than a credit card receipt.
_____Adjusters or Contractors. Get each person’s business card and a clear understanding of the company the person represents. For adjusters, you will want to get a copy of his or her report and estimate of damage. For contractors, before signing anything get proof that the company or person is insured, licensed and has the ability to do the work required.
_____ Don’t sign anything until you read what you are signing and understand the effects of the document. It is likely that you will disagree with your insurance company regarding the value of your loss. As a result, it is important that you do not sign any document that would prevent you from receiving full value for the loss you have sustained.
If you feel that you are not being treated fairly or need help with your claim, contact us at (713) 966-6140 and we can help you with your claim.