FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK, November 13, 2012 — If Hurricane Sandy damaged your home, there are steps you can take now to make the most of the insurance adjuster’s visit and get your damaged property repaired or replaced as soon as possible, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
After you report an insurance claim, your company will either send you a proof of loss form, which you fill out yourself, or schedule an appointment to have an insurance adjuster inspect the site and guide you through the claims process. Adjusters are professionally trained and licensed to assess damage, and different types of claims may require the specialized knowledge of various claims adjusters, so there could be more than one adjuster assigned to help you. For example, you may have a claims professional assess structural damage, a contents specialist to help with the loss of personal property, and a separate adjuster to inspect damage to your car. Additionally, if you have a flood insurance policy
or separate coverage for wind damage through a state-run insurance pool, there may be different claims adjuster assigned.
As part of the claims process, the adjuster (or adjusters) will review all information and your policy to determine coverage, and will ask you to obtain estimates for repairs. The more information about the damage you can supply, the faster your claim can be settled.
Following are six important steps to help you prepare for the claims process:
1. Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Make sure your insurance company knows how to reach you if you have evacuated or are unable to live in your home. Customers can reach out to their insurer by phone, Internet or mobile app to start the claims process. Provide your policy number, loss location, cell phone number and back-up contacts, if available. If at all possible, you should try to meet the claims adjuster at your property, providing it is safe to do so.
2. Make any temporary repairs and secure your property
Even before the adjuster arrives, if you can do so safely, take steps to protect your property, prevent further damage and reduce the time it may take to restore it, such as making reasonable temporary repairs to avoid further damage and securing features such as windows, doors and roofs as necessary.
3. Fill out all forms as soon as possible
. The more information you have about your damaged possessions the faster your claim will be settled. If you already have an up-to-date home inventory
, this will be a valuable tool as you will need to make a list of all damaged items to give your claims adjuster. The inventory should include the make and model numbers of your possessions, purchase dates and the price you paid. Most insurers have home inventory forms online to start the process. Also, make a list of any damage you want to show the adjuster.
4. Photograph debris or destroyed items, and ask your insurer if debris can be removed. Generally you should not throw away any damaged items until the claims adjuster has visited. However, if it is necessary to dispose of some items, make your insurance company aware you have done so and photograph or take video of the damage before you discard the items. Many insurers can accept photographic documentation directly online.
5. Know that the first claims check you receive is often an advance, not a final settlement. You may be offered a settlement check from the adjuster on the initial visit. If so, you can accept it immediately, and if other insured damage is discovered within the timeframe stated in your insurance policy, the claim can be reopened. Most states allow at least one year from the date of the disaster to file or reopen a claim, and some states allow more time.
You may receive three separate checks from your insurer: one for damage to the structure, one for losses related to personal belongings and a third check for additional living expenses (ALE) incurred while your home is being repaired. ALE is often the first check you receive.
6. Stay Organized. Remember to retain the insurance claim reference number, adjuster and other insurance company contact information, photographs of the damage, receipts, repair bills and estimates. Keep all your paperwork organized so you can refer to it easily if questions arise.
Once you have reported your claim, you can check the status with your insurer by phone or online. With an online account, you can have access to claim information, register for direct deposit of qualified claim payments on qualified losses, upload documents and correspond with your claims adjuster.
For information about disaster relief, contact:
The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its You Tube Channel. Information about I.I.I. mobile apps can be found here.
THE I.I.I. IS A NONPROFIT, COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY.
Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org