If you are reading this then most likely the hurricane has past and you are feeling desperate, sad, and confused. All of these feelings are normal and expected. I wish I could tell you tomorrow things will be all better, unfortunately I can’t say that. However, over time you will be in a better mental and physical place.
I can tell you there are thousands of people that are working very hard and long hours to help you, your neighbors and your community.
Recovery starts with the basics. The first thing to do is call your insurance company and file a claim. You may find the phone number the insurance wants you to call to file your claim in your policy or look on the list in our Insurance Claim Pone Numbers Post.
1) Start a claim log. In this log you will record all phone calls, appointments, events (ie: when the power came back on) who you spoke with, the subject matter, the dates, and any information or direction you have been given. You will also enter any of the above list for contractors and civil authority calls/meetings.
2) The Insurance company will give you a claim number. Write down the claim number.
3) Write down the name of the person and their position/title you are speaking with.
4) Make sure the person on the phone has all of your contact information; Name, Phone Number, Address, Email Address. Give them a another person’s name and phone number they can call in the event they or the adjuster cannot reach you. Ask them to read all the information back you.
Enter this call in your Claim Log.
As soon as it is safe and the authorities are allowing you to go back to your home, you need to do a few things that will help you and the adjuster expedite your claim. Remember you adjuster has many family’s to help and you can help him/her help you. This list is not complete but will get you started in the right direction. :
- Not only are you stressed and displaced, so are the animals. Alligators, snakes and other creatures are also displaced and stressed. They may have found their way onto your property and even into your home. Snakes go to high places to get out of the water. I have found them coiled on coset shelving and in the attics. Always be careful when opening doors and looking in your attic. The animals will hear you and may see you before you see them.
- First, take exterior, interior, and contents pictures. Building and personal items can move/shift or disappear during the wait. You want to be sure you have evidence of every detail of the event. While you are walking around your home pay attention for certain smells like natural gas and look for downed electric wires. If you smell gas or find “LIVE” wires leave the property and immediately call the utility company(s) and report it. STAY SAFE!
- The second thing is to document your damages. This is very important on several levels. Remember the adjuster has never been to your home. He/She will need your help in re-creating what amenities and features your home had. Remember the three most important things in preparing for your claim adjuster.
- Make a list of the most obvious damages on the exterior of your home or building. Stay organized and start with the front elevation, then the right elevation, then the rear elevation and then the left elevation.
- Once you have photographed your home then do the same with your other structures such as, pool, fence, shed, shop etc..
- If you can safely enter your home or building, make a similar list of building damages room by room. You should also make a note of the finishes in each room.
- If you had a flood, mark the water line inside and on the exterior and take a photo of it.
- Do not clean up. Unless there is a reason to do so that cannot wait, do not clean up until the adjuster arrives. You want them to see the damage in its entirety. The best evidence is the damage.
- Next, do not move items or remove them. You want, to have the most accurate display of what occurred present. That being said remove any valuable(s) items you were not able to take with you before the hurricane. If they are damaged be sure to take photos of them.
- You will to need mitigate any further damages. This means tarping your roof if it is damaged. Covering the windows or doors if they ate damaged. Try to dry out wet area of your home. I realize the power may be turned off. If possible get a generator operate the fans. Take photos.
- If your home or building is destroyed, speak with family members and friends and ask them to help you remember personal items, features of your home or building. Take the time to draw a foot print of your home labeling each room.
- Make your list of personal items that were damaged. Take photos.
- Gather any documentation you have such as contractor estimates, pre-storm photos and your lists I outlined above. Specifically, find your home inventory and use that to help validate your claim.
- You can file a police report in the event of an illegal act. For example, call the police as soon as you notice theft.
This list will help you to get ready for your adjuster. Remember, your adjuster is there to help you.