Homes in the path of a hurricane can suffer extensive damage as high winds and heavy rains pressure them. As the storm comes through the area, homeowners concern themselves with securing their property the best way and keeping themselves safe. After the hurricane passes, however, the cleanup begins, meaning a call to your insurance company to file a claim on your home owners insurance.
Preparation for a storm should include preparing an inventory of everything inside the home. This helps homeowners quickly produce a list of all that was lost from inside a home in the event it incurs damages. Also, when possible, homeowners should take photographs or videos of every room in advance of a hurricane for a reference in the event of storm damage. Those images can help prove the extent of damage, making the claim easier and faster to process. Also, homeowners should take steps to document their efforts to protect the property in advance of the storm.
After the storm passes, homeowners should contact their insurance company. Insurers have much work to do, so they may not always operate at effective levels. For this reason, homeowners should record every contact with the insurer. Information such as the name of the person with whom they spoke, topic, date and time will help track the claim process. The records should also indicate the outcome of each event, document any problems and note discrepancies. By collecting as much information as possible, homeowners have a better case if they need to sue.
After a hurricane, beware of hurricane deductibles. Many states where hurricanes are common allow insurance companies to establish deductible amounts by percentage of home value rather than a flat dollar amount. This helps them limit unexpected payments that result from rising home values. Also, some policies exclude damages caused by sinkholes, landslides, earthquakes and floods, so insurers will often try to attribute damages to those things rather than to a storm.
Finally, always shop around and compare home insurance policies before settling on an insurance company as the deductibles and monthly payments can vary greatly. Insurance companies may offer advance payments that require you to sign documents that could restrict future claims. They may also want you to stipulate that the damage to your home was caused by flooding. Although you might need that money for a temporary residence, do not sign anything until the insurer processes your claim. Doing so can seriously limit the total amount of compensation you ultimately receive.
Rebecca Jones is a financial blogger and contributing writer for Policy Expert