How to Handle Insurance Claims for Damage After a Major Storm
With the potential damage caused by major storms to homes both on the coast and inland due to wind and flooding, it’s important to understand what to do when a storm has passed. Here are some tips on how to handle claims and damage to your home and property in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Homeowners Insurance Claims:
Note that if you have supplemental coverage, like Inland Flood Insurance, your coverage may be more comprehensive than the standard homeowner’s policy. For your safety and to make the claims process easier, take the following steps when assessing the damage to your home before filing a claim:
- Inspect your home for damage, document the damage as much as you are able, and then notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Prepare an inventory and take photographs of damaged property before you take steps to minimize further damage (for example, if your roof has been damaged, try to take photos or video before putting a tarp over it).
- Store undamaged property in a protected place if possible.
- Cover broken windows and other holes to prevent further damage.
- If carpet is soaked, remove the carpet and the carpet pad. Keep a two-foot square piece for the claims adjuster.
- Look for hazards such as broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, submerged furnaces or electrical appliances and damaged sewage systems. If found, contact a licensed professional as soon as possible.
- Proceed with extreme caution as you inspect your basement. There may be hazards from electrical lines and heating units. If your basement has flooded, do not pump it out all at once. Remove about one-third of the water per day. The wet ground surrounding your basement may cause the floors to buckle and the walls to collapse.
- Remove contaminated materials from the home.
- Carpeting, mattresses and upholstered furniture should be disposed of or cleaned and disinfected by a professional cleaner.
- Test drywall for moisture softness. If soft, cut holes at base to help dry out.
- If possible, run A/C, dehumidifier and fans constantly.
- If power is out, disconnect all computers and appliances from electrical sources.
- Open cabinet doors and elevate furniture allowing air to circulate.
- Save wet books or photo albums by putting them on edge in a frost-free freezer.
- Be present when the adjuster inspects your damage.
Auto Insurance Claims:
If your vehicle was flooded or damaged by debris or falling trees during the storm, you’ll need to document the damage with video or photographs. In the wake of a storm, the claims process may take longer than usual, but any due diligence on your part can help with repair or replacement.
- Car owners should contact their insurance company to determine the extent of coverage before seeking repairs.
- Take photographs of any visible damage.
- Any vehicle sustaining flood damage should be fully inspected before being allowed back on the road. Mechanical components, computer systems, engine, transmission, axles, brake system and fuel system impacted by water contamination may render the vehicle unfit to drive and in many cases vehicles sustaining significant water damage will be determined to be a total loss.
Finally, be safe. If you don’t have proper equipment or assistance for measures like putting a tarp on your roof, wait until you have help. Mitigating further damage is important, but it’s not worth putting your safety at risk. Your insurance specialists at AAA can offer advice on preventing further damage and guide you through the process of getting necessary estimates and repairs.
We are privileged you have selected AAA Carolinas to handle your insurance needs. We realize that this may be an experience you wish you did not have to address; however, we here at AAA are committed to providing you with genuine care throughout the process. Your safety is our utmost concern.