Based on 20 years of handling building insurance claims:
To speed up recovery on your building insurance claims after Hurricane Irma the main action you need to take? DOCUMENT EVERYTHING BEFORE AND AFTER THE STORM
Before you evacuate, photograph and video the condition of your building and contents. Do this before you evacuate.
Photograph and video damage before ANY clean up. After the storm has passed and you are safe, when you return to the property, photograph and video the condition of the property before touching ANYTHING—debris, downed trees, ruined building interiors and contents should all be photographed before this evidence is moved or thrown away.
Report insurance claims as soon as possible and document the date of reporting. Insurance claims are first come, first serve. Report your insurance claims (wind and flood) in writing by fax or email if at all possible—directly to your insurance company, not just to your agent. If not, and you must report the claim by phone, put the call center on speaker phone, let them know you are video recording the call, and ask them to acknowledge the date. Do not speculate on the scope and extent of wind or flood damages. Flood damages are not covered under most homeowners and commercial property insurance policies, and you will need a separate flood policy for that. You can describe the damage as a lay person, but in terms of pinpointing the cause, tell the insurer you are not an engineer or a contractor. Get the insurance company’s permission to discard any ruined contents or building materials.
Protect your property from further damage. Once you have photographed and videoed the condition of your roof (do this before anyone walks on the roof!), protect your property from further damage by putting a tarp over any openings. Board up windows and begin drying out the building as soon as possible. Beware of predatory contractors and remediation companies. Get referrals to reputable, licensed and insured contractors.
Register with FEMA early. If you need temporary housing assistance, contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. Again, it is first come, first serve, so do so immediately after reporting your insurance claims.
Free consultations ~ Call us at 877-444-2929 or email us at PandC@LigoriLaw.com. Should you need help hiring qualified experts to document your building damages, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
Since 1998, Kristin Demers-Crowell has handled building insurance claims and litigation, forcing insurance companies to keep their promises. She has helped victims of numerous hurricanes get the recoveries they deserved. She is a contributing author for the Catastrophe Claims manual and regularly teaches courses on insurance claims for building owners. Keep your families safe during Hurricane Irma, and contact us for a free consultation if you need help after the storm.