So, you have an insurance claim. I can never stress enough how important it is to contact a public adjuster as soon as you can to assist you with your insurance claim and to help you navigate the complicated process of recovering from a disaster. But, the timing doesn't always happen that way.
So, the following rules will help you in the hours and days immediately following your loss and will help you determine these four things:
1) What to do
2) How to do it
3) When to do it, and
4) Should I do it?
Rule #1: Take care of yourself and your family.
You and your family can't be replaced. Pay careful attention to downed power lines, excessive snow loads and flooding concerns. It also pays to be prepared in advance. Here are some tips from the Red Cross.
Rule #2: Protect your property from further damage.
It not only makes sense, but your insurance policy requires you to protect your property from further damage. [Remember my advice when I wrote about whether your insurance policy would cover a fallen tree? Read about that here>>]
Rule #3: Take photos.
Not just one or two, but dozens or hundreds from all angles. What you see today will change by tomorrow and certainly a week or two down the road. You need to memorialize what the damages look like now. Photos, videos, itemizations on paper. Do it now. You will be glad you did.
Rule #4: Don't throw anything away.
Other than food or other items which could become a hazard, don't throw anything away. If you have to throw it away, take photos of it before you do. If you're cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer, take a video or photograph what you're throwing out and then take a picture of all the trash bags. If you dispose of items before the adjuster sees them, your insurance company may not pay for them.
Rule #5: Change your expectations.
Storms cause widespread damage. There is no way the insurance industry can handle claims in the usual way. It may be weeks before you hear from an adjuster. This is all the more reason to keep good records of who you spoke with, what was said and to document and photograph your damages.
Rule #6: If you have moderate-to-severe damages to your home, more than just food and a scratch to paint on the siding, call your insurance agent to file the claim.
If you have roof damage and can see that there are only three shingles missing, file the claim for “roof damage.” Don't editorialize the damages. Let a roofer tell you how many and how big an area of the roof is damaged.
Rule #7: Should I file a claim?
If all you have is $250 of food spoilage, you might want to think twice before filing a claim. [Not sure whether to keep it or throw it? Here are some food safety tips from the Food & Drug Administration]
Even though you have coverage, there are several reasons why you might not want to file an insurance claim. First of all, your insurance company might be extending a discount to you for having zero claims activity. Filing a claim — even a small one — may cause that discount to be removed from next year’s (and perhaps two or three more years’) premiums. It simply isn't worth it.
Secondly, once you file the claim, it is on record in several databases. These databases are used to calculate if you're a good insurance risk. Ask yourself: Is it worth it to be listed in those databases for such a small claim?
Professional Loss Adjusters helps in every phase of the insurance claim process, as well as expediting payment. We get better results because we:
Perform a thorough review and analysis of your insurance policy to determine what is required to maximize the recovery.
Assist you in making the critical decisions that will affect your property as a result of the loss.
Advise you as to how you can maximize the coverage in your insurance policy to enable you to recover as much as possible — as soon as possible.
Make an on-site analysis of the building damage and prepare a detailed inventory and estimate of the cost to reconstruct your property and replace the contents.
Concentrate the detail work of property and business interruption claims.
Prepare, present and support an itemized claim package to your insurance company.
Keep you apprised of the status of your claim and seek your approval before the claim is settled.
Secure the best possible settlement in the shortest timeframe.
How much will that cost, you ask? Our service fee represents a small percentage of the claim settlement. This is offset by a better settlement than you would be able to obtain on your own.