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What to Do After Storm Damage: A Practical Guide

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Rebuilding physically, emotionally, and financially after a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or other disaster is exhausting and stressful. The last thing you should have to worry about on your road to recovery is fighting with the insurance company over your claim.

As soon as you report the damage to your property, the insurance company begins searching for ways to deny or minimize your claim. After all, they are in the business of collecting premiums from you and turning a profit, not paying out money.

If you want to give yourself the best chance at avoiding an unfair denial and getting fair compensation when you need it most, you’ll need to be fast and smart. To take the legal guesswork out of the process, relieve your stress, and improve your odds, contact an experienced property casualty attorney today. Insurance Claim HQ’s team of property lawyers are ready and able to do the legal legwork for you so you can focus on keeping you and your loved ones safe.

RELATED POST: How Long Do I Have to File an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane?

How to Build a Successful Homeowners Insurance Claim

After a disaster, the most important thing to do is to be sure you and your loved ones are safe from harm. Be sure to seek immediate medical attention for any injuries before taking care of your home. Once you and your loved ones are safe, then you can begin to assess the damage to your home and work on building your claim.

Once it is safe to do so, performing the following steps will help to improve your claim’s chances of success.

Make Sure Your Home is Safe

Following a major storm, you may be in a state of shock and overlook this simple task. Do not go into the home if it is not safe. A few actions you may need to take right away include cutting off your utilities in the case of a fire or any major water event, sealing up any openings that you can, and of course, reporting the damage to the appropriate authorities.

Make sure you have the proper protective gear upon re-entering the home. Also, be sure to stay aware of any potential dangers, such as downed power lines or trees. Check for any gas leaks, frayed electrical connections, or burst pipes and reduce these damages as safely as possible.

However, do not make any permanent repairs before you have notified the insurance company about the damage. If you do, they may argue that they were unable to conduct a fair investigation and estimate repair costs, which they can then use to deny your claim.

Don’t Place Yourself at Risk

Make sure you have the proper protective gear upon re-entering the home. Also be sure to stay aware of any potential dangers, such as downed power lines or trees. Check for any gas leaks, frayed electrical connections, or pipe bursts, but only take care of these issues if it is safe to do so.

There are hidden risks that many homeowners don’t consider when it comes to severe storms. Any water event has the capability of bringing raw sewage and dangerous bacteria. Many people were sick after Hurricane Katrina solely because of hazards in the water.

Mold can start growing almost immediately after a water event as well. If you have become sick after storm damage, medical professionals will do testing to determine why, and the answer is usually a lack of proper protective gear when re-entering the home.

Protect the Home From Further Damage

There is what is called a “duty to mitigate” loss in most insurance policies. This means that it is your responsibility to make sure that the damage doesn’t get worse. So, for instance, you may need to have a tarp placed over roof storm damage to stop additional water from getting in. A fire damaged home may need to be secured to keep thieves out and any openings sealed off.

It is important to assess your home’s damage and do what you can to repair any damages possible, even temporarily. This includes making sure to cover broken windows, replacing doors, clean up debris, or even just patching small holes. These temporary fixes prove to your insurance company that you are committed to preventing further damage and gives you a better case for compensation.

Document Everything

Be sure to take photos and videos of any damage, no matter the size or severity, from as many angles as possible. Keep a detailed list of all damaged items and forms of damage. These damages can include:

  • Missing shingles and other roof damage
  • Standing water and other water damage
  • Flood damage
  • Structural damage
  • Broken glass and windows
  • Damage to utilities, including gas leaks and downed power lines
  • Fire damage
  • Missing siding, doors, gutters, or other exterior damage
  • Any other property damage

Some types of damage may not be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. For example, flooding is usually not covered unless you purchased a separate policy. Collect any evidence you can that shows that your property damage was caused by a covered event.

Also, be sure to save all receipts and documentation of any repairs you make, as these can be reimbursed through your homeowners insurance policy. This, combined with an itemized list of any damaged property, will give you a more accurate idea of how much your claim is worth.

In short, the more documentation you have, the stronger your case will be and the better your chances of receiving a fair settlement.

Don’t Wait to Call Your Insurance Agent

One of the most common ways that a policyholder can miss out on insurance benefits is by waiting to contact their insurance provider. Call your insurance agent right away to report the damage and start the claims process.

If you wait too long, your insurance company may dispute your claim for any number of reasons, such as:

  • You missed a deadline outlined in your policy
  • You did not give them a fair chance to evaluate the damage
  • Your damages were at least partly caused by the time that has passed between the storm and your call, rather than the storm itself.
  • You aren’t committed to the safety of your home.

Any time you spend waiting is time your insurance can use against you, so don’t hesitate to call as soon as possible following a storm.

Why Contacting an Experienced Attorney Can Save Your Claim

The insurance claims process can be complex, especially with storm claims. Your insurance company will likely use any trick they can think of to reduce or deny your claim, so that they can protect their bottom line. This is, of course, extremely frustrating for claimants—and is something you can avoid by contacting an experienced attorney.

Experienced property casualty attorneys, like those at Insurance Claim HQ, are trained to handle anything the insurance company throws at your claim. They can help you understand what evidence is relevant to your case, put you in contact with professionals to fix your damages, and communicate with the insurance company so you don’t have to.

Hiring an experienced attorney will not only give your claim a better chance at success, but will give you the peace of mind you need so you can focus on your recovery.

Get the Information You Need Before Damage Happens

Many homeowners only discover what to do after a disaster once the damage is already done. Get the answers you need before disaster strikes by reading our free eBook, “Overcoming Disaster.” In our book, we cover all the tips, tricks, and best practices to make sure you and your loved ones are taken care of after a disaster. Order your free copy here today.

Related: As Hurricane Season Approaches, Do You Have The Right Insurance?

Insurance Claim HQ: Fighting for the Rights of Storm Damage Victims in Louisiana

At Insurance Claim HQ, we’re no strangers to storm damage cases. Our team of experienced property damage attorneys are here to help you fight back against the insurance company to get the compensation you deserve.

We will help you organize evidence, communicate with your homeowners insurance on your behalf, and even file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to give you a fair offer.

If you or a loved one have experienced storm damage to your home and are unsure where to turn, call Insurance Claim HQ at (844) CLAIM-84 or contact us directly to schedule your free consultation.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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