Living in the Midwest, we have our fair share of weather that can turn disastrous. Severe thunderstorms have the potential to come in tandem with tornadoes, flooding, or even a derecho. When strong winds, hail, water and other storm conditions sweep through, the damage left behind can seem almost impossible to mend. When your home is damaged from a disaster-level storm, it can be incredibly overwhelming. That is why we have created these few helpful tips that will guide you smoothly through the process of disaster recovery.
When working with your insurance, there is a specific process to follow. While it may seem tedious, it is very crucial in making sure that you get the most benefit from your insurance in relieving you from the damages of your home.
Step One: Respond to the Emergency
Before all else, respond to the emergency at hand. Make sure everyone is accounted for, call immediate emergency services if needed and leave your home if it is uninhabitable or in dangerous conditions (such as in the presence of standing water or the smell of natural gas). After a disaster, it is not uncommon for your first inclination to be going through your possessions, but they need to wait. It is important to put the safety of yourself and others first.
Step Two: Assess the Disaster Damage
You may take a look at your home and wonder, where do I even start? The first thing to do when assessing the damage is to determine how this disaster occurred. Was it a tornado? Fire? Flood? Maybe it was more than one. Whatever the case may be, you need to figure out what exactly happened to help the insurance company narrow down its search for coverage.
After that, determine where the majority of the damage took place. Was it in the basement? The right side of the house? Did the top floor take the biggest hit when the roof caved in? Also, try to find any exposed parts of your home that may be unprotected from the elements. This can be a variety of things such as; a hole in the roof, broken windows, collapsed walls, etc.
Tip: You may be tempted to begin cleaning up. Do NOT. Your insurance needs detailed proof of the damage. Cleaning up without evidence can be a huge risk and may result in insurance denying your claim.
Why is it important to assess the damage of your home after a disaster, if insurance is going to anyway? If you have a better understanding of the state of your home, this can make communicating with your insurance that much more efficient.
Tip: Take photographs! Account for as much of the damage as possible in photographs. This will help the insurance company issue their claim with more accuracy if they can see exactly how you describe the damage.
Step Three: Contact a Local Damage/Disaster Company
Yes, contacting your insurance company as soon as possible is a good idea. However, working with a local disaster company might be an even better option, because they can help you work with your insurance agent. If you have had to file claims in the past and are worried about your deductible going up, a disaster company can help mitigate that. The company can assess your damage completely and help you decide if you should move forward in contacting your insurance.
An additional benefit to working with a local damage/disaster company is that they are experts in these high-intensity situations. After the initial assessment of your damages and advice on whether or not you should use your insurance, the company will clean up, gather evidence, get estimates, work with the insurance adjuster, and negotiate to get you the best possible outcome for your claim.
Lastly: Begin Recovery
At this point, the disaster/damage restoration company can begin the process of helping you recover. They will go in and help clean up by securing any exposed damages that may lead to further problems. It is important to choose a company that knows how to do this because cleaning up after a disaster warrants a proper process.
They will also help you in gathering all the evidence you need for insurance. Besides photographs, your insurance may ask for more specifics such as; scientific data (moisture, humidity, atmospheric readings), reports from first responders, and any other reports depending on the damage. If the damage was from a fire, these reports may need to be even more detailed and you may need more assistance in gathering data for them.
Finally, your disaster/damage restoration company will meet with your insurance adjuster, negotiate, and you will receive your claims money.
For more information on what to do when a disaster occurs, or if you have any more questions regarding the process of what to do with insurance in the aftermath of disaster damage to your home…contact us today! Learn more about our disaster recovery services.