Repairing your home and restarting your life after a storm can be one of the more significant challenges you’ll face. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to be prepared for that situation now?
Everyone talks about what to do before a storm hits. But there’s much less discussion about what to do afterward.
That’s why so many homeowners make the same mistakes again and again. But this doesn’t have to be you. You can learn from their missteps. Here are some of the most common flooding and hurricane insurance claim mistakes.
Thanks to smartphone technology, there’s always a camera nearby, so take advantage of it. It would be best if you took as many pictures as possible of your property. Try to capture the scene from various angles. And take the photos without manipulating the objects and altering reality.
You may not be able to get all the shots you want due to the danger of injuring yourself. That’s okay. But do the best you can.
Still photos are excellent. And while video isn’t necessary, it can undoubtedly capture more effectively moving floodwaters and dripping ceilings.
Hold off on any repairs until you’ve documented any flood and hurricane storm damage with photos. For example, don’t place an emergency tarp on your roof until you’ve photographed the missing shingles, ripped paper, and punctured plywood.
It’s true that the insurance company wants you to take measures quickly to prevent additional damage, but take your photos first. If you begin salvaging family keepsakes and hauling away debris, your property will no longer tell the accurate tale of what happened.
Depending upon how much repair work you do, you could significantly reduce the amount of flooding and hurricane damage compensation your insurance company is willing to offer. After all, to the adjuster, your property doesn’t look nearly as bad as your neighbors’.
You don’t want to make any repairs before the adjuster has seen the property, but there are still some steps you can take in the interim. For example, you can use an emergency tarp to prevent rain from continuing to enter your house through a damaged roof. You also may have to secure the doors and windows if looting or stray wildlife is a problem.
If you do nothing to protect your property between the end of the storm and the arrival of the adjuster, the insurance company might claim that the storm didn’t cause as much damage as you claim. The company may insist that your negligence after the storm resulted in most of the damage.
Don’t ignore a request from your insurer. For example, if your policy requires you to submit a proof of loss form whenever the insurer demands it, you’ll need to do so quickly.
Even if your homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t specifically mention proof of loss, your insurer could still request it. You will likely have only 30 to 60 days to comply.
If you fail to turn in the form on time, your insurer may have grounds to deny any future claim you make. So, if you can’t meet the deadline, request an extension in writing.
The state of Florida considers a proof of loss form as a sworn statement. Therefore, you should stick closely to the facts. Incorrect information could put you in line for an accusation of insurance fraud.
In general, you should be cautious when completing a proof of loss. Getting legal counsel is an excellent idea because the proof of loss may be the insurer’s way of getting you to signal your acceptance of a lowball settlement offer.
Taking inventory is one of those things that we tend to keep putting off until “someday.” Unfortunately, flooding and other bad weather doesn’t wait until someday. It comes each year. And global warming appears to be increasing its frequency and intensity.
That means having a regularly updated inventory of household items should be a priority. After disaster strikes, you may be too emotionally distraught to compose a list. And even if you did, the list would be incomplete, meaning that you would be sabotaging your own homeowner’s insurance claim.
Here’s a tip: Save the receipt for each notable purchase. Then weekly, or at least monthly, use the receipts to bring your inventory list current.
Keep the list in multiple places. For example, you could have a copy on each family member’s phone. You could also save a copy in the cloud and on a removable hard drive.
The insurance company wants to do two things after a storm: close cases as fast as possible and pay the minimum amount on all legitimate claims. Therefore, your initial offer is likely to be ridiculously low.
If you’re sure that your loss is worth more than the insurer is offering, remain firm. The insurance company expects a percentage of homeowners to challenge their findings. If you feel the insurer is unwilling to listen to reason, you should turn the matter over to a competent insurance lawyer.
The frustration and stress from seeing your home damaged in a storm can increase your vulnerability to a tactic used by some contractors. They may offer to take complete control of the recovery so that you won’t have to worry about details. In exchange for handling the project, they’ll want you to sign the rights to your insurance claim over to them.
According to them, this would expedite the entire procedure. They say they’d be able to begin work sooner and be assured of having the funds they need each step along the way.
If you sign over your claim, you’ll never receive any of the payout. It will all go to the contractor. Instead, you want to maintain control of your money and pay contractors as you see fit.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for homeowners already grieving over the flooding and hurricane damage to their homes to also have to battle with an insurance company refusing to honor its policies. That’s where we come in. VG Law Group, LLC knows how to confront insurers who deny a flooding and hurricane insurance claim.
So, take the pressure off of yourself by letting us represent you. Contact us today to find out exactly what a lawyer for insurance claims can do to help put your life back on track.