Although you can never prepare for an insurance company’s dishonest tactics, you can certainly make sure you’ve done everything in your control to ensure the best chance of a fair and prompt resolution to your insurance claim stemming from hurricane damage to your home or business. This post will discuss the steps you can take before a hurricane strikes that will put you in the best position to recover the full amount of damages from your insurance company. The National Hurricane Center and a number of other sites have extensive guides on how to personally prepare your home and family for a hurricane so this post will only discuss the insurance aspect of hurricane preparedness.
Check Your Insurance Policy
Before you can even file a claim, you need to make sure you have the appropriate insurance policy and sufficient coverages. This includes making sure you have:
- Enough dollar amount of coverage under the dwelling portion (Coverage A) of your insurance policy to replace your entire home or business in case of a total loss. Too often when reviewing insurance policies I find that some clients do not even know that they are underinsured.
- Enough coverage for your personal property and scheduled items keeping in mind that typical insurance policies have very low limits for jewelry and collectibles unless you have specifically paid for scheduled or itemized coverages.
Document Your Home and Personal Property
When you file a claim with your insurance company, it would be helpful to show the condition of your home or business prior to the damage. Similarly, if you sustain damage to your personal property, the insurance company will want to see the condition and existence of the personal property prior to the damage.
I’ve found that the most efficient way of documenting personal property is by taking a video. This is very easy to do on your cell phone and can take as little as a few minutes to simply walk around your home documenting your personal property while narrating the descriptions. You can even store your video remotely on a cloud based service like Dropbox or iCloud should your phone become damaged or lost.
Have Your Home and Property Inspected
Insurance companies often deny claims saying that the damage is preexisting damage so it’s important to document the condition of your home prior to sustaining damage, especially your roof and interior finishes, showing that there are no current leaks or damage. Also have the rest of your home inspected and documented including screened enclosures, fences and air conditioning systems.
Know Who to Call When Disaster Strikes
Once you sustain damage to your home or business, depending on the severity, you should be prepared to call someone you trust to prevent any further damage to your home and to make temporary repairs. For example, if you sustain damage to your roof, you should be prepared to put a tarp on your roof. If you sustain water damage on the inside of your home, be prepared to call someone who can remove the water. And when you are ready to file an insurance claim, you should have someone you trust who you can call to handle your insurance claim for you.
If you have any questions on preparing your home or business for a hurricane or if you have suffered hurricane damage in Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami-Dade County, contact us for guidance or information.
For information on how to personally prepare yourself or family, a good resource is the National Hurricane Center’s hurricane preparedness guide which can be found here.