We here at Anytime Flood Restoration in Denver know a lot about how to deal with home disasters and insurance. When something has happened to your property, working with your insurance company can be a headache. There are some important tips to help improve your success in dealing with your insurance company following a disaster.
Getting an Advance
If you had to evacuate your property in a rush, you may have missed important necessities. Your homeowner’s policy will usually cover the cost of replacing items, toothbrushes to clothes.
It is important to know that instead of filing a claim and waiting for approval to be able to purchase those clothes you need to go to work, you can ask for an advance on your eventual claim. You can even request that your insurance company deliver a check to you wherever you happen to be staying. Save the receipts for all of your purchases—you will be required to provide them. Be sure to use this to purchase needed items, but at reasonable prices. Your insurance company may not cover the full cost if you buy an Armani suit for those work clothes.
Check your insurance policy and be sure you understand the details. Even if you are covered for replacement cost for your home, you may only have actual cash value for the contents of your house. You should make sure that your agent walks you through any questions you may have to ensure you have a firm understanding, preferably in advance of any disasters.
Keep You Property Secured
As a homeowner, your insurance policy will require that you take steps to protect your property from harm. You have a duty to mitigate or minimize any damages. This means using common sense. If your roof is leaking, cover the spot with a tarp to minimize the damage till it can be repaired. If a pipe burst on your property, shut off the main to stop the water from continuing to flow. The cost to you to minimize the damage will generally be reimbursed (again—save those receipts). Other types of mitigation include:
- Stop the smoldering: After a fire, be sure to contact the fire department so that they can perform any needed flare-up prevention.
- Board up your property: Secure your property by boarding it up to prevent theft and vandalism. Consider using a portable chain link fence to keep people out.
- Remain vigilant: You may need to regularly check on your property, depending on the situation, to ensure it hasn’t been disturbed and no new problems arise.
File Your Claim Immediately
All insurance policies require that losses be reported immediately, or as quickly as is possible given the circumstances. Email or call your agent as soon as you can to fulfill the notice requirement. If you delay notification, you may find that your insurance company will be delayed in sending an adjuster to complete your claim. Once you notify your insurance company, you’ll be asked to submit proof and itemize your property losses and their value.
Organize Your Information
Be sure to track all correspondence, submissions, receipts, and notices. If there is ever a question of who said what and when, you will have all the details available as proof if needed. Be sure to take notes on phone calls. Keep copies of invoices, estimates, bills, and repair contracts. Always provide copies to your company and keep the original for your records.
Track Your Living Expenses
Your policy may include a loss of use clause. This clause allows you to be reimbursed for your living expenses while you are unable to live in your own home due to the actual disaster or the cleanup, like mold mitigation.
However, it’s important to understand that this clause only entitles you to the additional money that you spend on a daily basis. This means it only pays for the difference between what it would have cost you to live at home and what it is costing you to not live there.
For example, if you, on average, spent $300 a week on groceries and meals before the damage to your home and now it costs you $500 to feed your family in restaurants, the insurance company might only reimburse $200 (the additional amount).
Staying with Friends and Family or a Hotel
The entire amount of your hotel bill will likely be reimbursed because even though you are not in your home, you still have to pay the mortgage, taxes, and insurance. You may choose to stay with family or friends, as many evacuees choose to do. Though you likely are not paying your hosts, you might be able to convince your insurance to reimburse your hosts for the cost of your stay. Ask your hosts to reasonably itemize the cost of housing and feeding you, if appropriate. If you have trouble getting the insurance company to agree, you can point out how much it would cost them if you were to stay in a hotel and eat in restaurants.
Get Proper Repair Estimates
If you have replacement insurance coverage, you are allowed to receive the full amount needed to replace your home and its contents up to a specified amount. This differs from an “actual cash value” policy, which only entitles you the amount of money it would take to return your home to the market value it held at the time of the disaster. This means if your home was in disrepair or needed a new roof, you may not recover the full price needed for rebuilding.
Keep Paying Your Premiums
Though it may strike you as ridiculous, you should continue to pay your insurance premiums on time. Your policy likely includes liability protection, which may come in handy. If your dog ruins your sister’s expensive carpeting, your insurance may pay for the replacement.
We here at Anytime Flood Restoration in Denver hope you now know more about how to deal with home disasters and insurance. Knowing more about all of this in advance can save you a lot of heartache in the midst of highly stressful times.