With hurricane season in full swing, it is time to think about what will happen if you have to make a hurricane claim to your insurance company. Aftermath Adjusters & Consulting, LLC suggest that you consider the following things if you need to submit a hurricane claim. Following these steps will help you avoid settlement issues.
#1 – Wait Until It is Safe
Although you might want to get back into your home quickly to mitigate damage, do not go into your home until you’ve been told it is safe to do so. Be sure that you do not turn on the power without having an electrician check the property first. This is especially true if the property has been flooded.
#2 – Document Before Repairs
Make sure that you don’t make any repairs to your home until you’ve documented the damage caused by the hurricane. Once you have documented the damage, you may begin making emergency repairs to keep further damage from occurring as required by your insurance policy. Be sure that you do not dispose of any damaged materials until the insurance adjuster has come for an inspection. By eliminating the evidence, you can actually hurt your claim because the property no longer looks damaged.
#3 – Don’t Sign Over Your Claim
Never let a contractor work on your home without first getting approval from your insurance company. Without specific approval, you will then be left with the bill if the insurer refuses to pay.
Some contractors and restoration companies ask you to sign over your claim (Assignment of Benefits or AOB). You should always have control of the money paid out by your insurance company. If you sign over your claim, you will never see any of your hurricane claim settlement.
Also, keep in mind that a restoration company can do the initial clean-up without being the company used for final repairs.
#4 – Use the Contractor of Your Choice
You do not have to use the contractor recommended by your insurance company. These companies are based on cost only, which means that the quality could be limited. These contractors are also typically more concerned with pleasing the insurance company rather than you. We suggest that you always get independent estimates for the repair work.
#5 – Overhead and Profit
As you look at damage repair estimates, make sure that they include both overhead and contractor profit. Each of these should be an extra 10%. You can find this under “10 &10” on the totals page of the estimate.
#6 – Contractors Cannot Negotiate Your Claim
Although some contractors will say that they can handle your entire claim, this is not true in Florida. Florida contractors are not allowed to negotiate your hurricane claim and may only give an estimate of the claim to your insurance company. Additionally, they are not able to adjust a claim. If they do have an adjuster as part of their team, they are not allowed to both adjust and repair the claim due to conflict of interest.
#7 – Pay Attention to Depreciation
Sometimes, insurance adjusters will depreciate your claim amount more than needed. Depreciation amounts are negotiable, so if your belongings are in good condition, you should get more than if they were not.
#8 – Get An Itemized List
Before a restoration company begins removing things from your home, be sure that you get an itemized list of your belongings. It is best to have photos to accompany this list. Also, keep in mind that restoration companies often charge storage fees. Finally, think about which items would be cheaper to replace than to restore.
#9 – Ask for An Advance
Even if your hurricane claim settlement is still in dispute, you can ask your insurance company for an advanced payment of undisputed amounts. This can help you get started with initial repairs and keep out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.
#10 – Don’t Wait Too Long
You have 60 days to submit a Proof of Loss Form valuating your claim. If you don’t get this form back to them or don’t seek an extension, you could void your hurricane claim.
By following these ten tips, you can avoid issues with your hurricane claim. If you find your claim to be too difficult, time-consuming, or stressful, or you feel that your settlement is too low, give Aftermath Adjusters & Consulting, LLC a call. We would love to help answer your questions and get you the settlement you deserve.