Understanding the Claims Process and Rebuilding After a Disaster

home-remodelRebuilding a home after a major loss is a tedious process. There are several necessary actions that must be taken even before reconstruction can begin, and the most important of these is the claims process. To make this process easier, take the following steps.

Filing A Claim
To start a claim, call an agent or visit a mobile center. Most people want to immediately start the cleanup process. However, it is important to remember that the insurer must have a very accurate estimate of the damages. Take videos or photos before removing any debris or fixing any damages. Document every loss on an organized list. Whenever possible, save damaged items to show the insurance representative. Make any temporary repairs as necessary to prevent further damage to the home.

After a major disaster happens, most insurance companies have time limits for filing claims. Homeowners should have their policy information available when calling an agent to make a claim. Before calling, make sure a home inventory has been taken. In some cases, insurers may extend or waive filing deadlines, so be sure to ask about this.

When making an assessment of the damages, remember that typical policies only cover damage to the contents of the home and the home itself. Renters policies only cover belongings. A different type of claim will be necessary for a damaged vehicle, which must be submitted to an auto insurer. Keep in mind that renters and homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Only a plan with the NFIP will suffice for actual flood damage, so ask an agent about this coverage.

The Claims Process
After the claim has been filed, the insurance company will send someone to assess the damage. They will send a company adjuster, which is an employee of the company. The adjuster will be the first person to survey the damage and will not charge for the service. Keep in mind that this individual will want to see every damaged item that was removed from the home. He or she will also request any photos or videos that show damages. It is best to have as much information and proof of damages as possible. The adjuster will want to see every area of the home. After creating an assessment, this individual will submit it to the insurance company.

Concerned policyholders are welcome to call their agents during the claims process to check the status of a claim. If any issues arise, call the insurer to verify that all contact information provided is correct. When conflicts arise regarding a claim or a contractor’s estimates, contact an agent to discuss these issues.

Claim Payments
Some people may receive more than one check for a claim. In most cases, the first check is money for an emergency advance on the main sum. While most checks are made out to the homeowner, they may be made out to a mortgage holder if there is a payment for structural damage to a home that is still mortgaged. The money is often put into an escrow account to pay for repairs as they are completed.

When contractors find damages that were not initially discovered, it is important to contact the insurance company immediately to work out the difference. The contractor and adjuster may meet to assess the damage. If the differences cannot be resolved, contact a personal insurance agent to discuss the issue. Items that may have been accidentally omitted or were later discovered can still be reported even after a claim has been settled. However, if the entire limit of the policy has been paid, there will not be any additional compensation. There are also grants, loans and other types of assistance available in some cases. To learn more about these options, discuss them with an agent.

About Brian Hendricks

Brian Hendricks is the President of Fidelity Insurance Group. Brian started Fidelity in 2003 with 0 clients. Today Fidelity Insurance Group is a Premier Independent Insurance Agency in Florida with over 3,000 families and businesses insured. Brian currently serves on advisory boards for 2 of the largest property insurance companies in Florida. Knowlege, Integrity, and Committment are his and his agency's guiding principles.
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