What to Do When Filing an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane or Tropical Storm
Need to file a hurricane insurance claim? Here’s what you need to do.
1. Does the damage exceed your policy’s deductible?
If your home has been damaged by the storm, the first thing to do is to determine if the damages will exceed your insurance policy’s deductible. If not, it’s not worth reporting and you should just proceed with getting the damages repaired without filing a claim.
2. Report your loss to your insurance company immediately.
If the answer is yes, you should report the loss immediately to the insurance company. Your insurance policy has language requiring you to report a loss in a timely manner. The policy will say something to the effect that you have a duty to report a loss as soon as possible, as soon as practical or even immediately, so report your damage as soon as you know you may have a claim covered under your policy.
A loss can be reported by contacting your insurance company directly or through your insurance agent. Don’t hesitate to ask questions when reporting a loss:
- Request a copy of your policy.
- Am I covered?
- What is my coverage?
- What is my deductible?
- Do I need estimates?
- When should I expect to be contacted and by whom?
3. Take photos and keep receipts for all damages and expenses related to the damages.
At this point, you don’t really want to touch anything or change it in any significant way, except to mitigate and prevent any other damage. The insurance company will need an opportunity to inspect the damage.
Take pictures of damages; keep all your receipts for repairs (temporary or permanent); and don’t throw anything away. It is also important to understand it is your duty to mitigate damages, which means you have to take measures to prevent any further damage to your home or personal items. If your roof is leaking – place a tarp on the roof to limit or prevent additional water leakage. Report the loss before replacing the roof, but mitigate by placing a tarp on the roof, if necessary.
If your home is severely damaged and you can’t stay, inform the insurance company of your need for additional living expense reimbursement. Additional living expenses are covered on an incurred basis only – meaning you will need all receipts for reimbursement, whether it is travel, food, hotel or other temporary living expenses.
4. Cooperate with the insurance adjuster.
Upon reporting a loss, an adjuster from the insurance company will call to interview you about the loss and visit your home to access the damage. The adjuster will likely ask for a recorded statement as to what happened and the extent of the damage.
The insurance policy provides that you have an obligation to cooperate with the adjuster in investigating the loss, also referred to as “duties after loss”, which includes the expectation that you will:
- give notice
- protect the property from further damage
- keep records of repair or expenses
- cooperate with investigation
- prepare inventory of damaged personal property
- allow inspection of the damaged property
- provide documents relevant to the loss
- submit to an examination under oath and/or recorded statement
- prepare a signed, sworn proof of loss.
5. Await your claim response.
The insurance company will send a letter after conducting its investigation as to its determination of coverage and payment of damage.
If the insurance company determines there is no coverage, then you will receive a denial letter. You have the legal right to question and challenge both the amount of a payment and the denial of coverage. Our firm will be happy to help you navigate the loss process with your insurance company and/or to provide a free consultation as to your specific loss issues. Learn more about insurance claim disputes and litigation.