Sunday, September 24, 2017

Filing a Claim after a Natural Disaster

Natural disasters like hurricanes and floods have been a major topic of conversation of late. The silver lining in the massive loss and damage that has occurred in Texas is that it has caused many homeowners to reevaluate the need for flood and earthquake damage coverage that is not typically covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy. Those who have the coverage will be protected if a disaster occurs. However, ensuring that you get the insurance pay out as quickly as possible is often not easy. It is estimated that the damage caused by hurricane Harvey in Texas could be around $10 billion. It means that insurance companies will have to process tens of thousands of claims. That volume will often lead to delays in the payouts. According to the National Association of Realtors, after a major natural disaster it could take anywhere from a week to a few months for an insurance adjuster to get in touch with a policy holder. It is worthwhile knowing what you can do to speed up the process if you should ever need to make a claim.

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Expediting an Insurance Claim

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Even a day’s delay could mean weeks or months longer before the payout is made. It is not that the companies intentionally delay payments – they are flooded with claims and so the sooner the claim is filed, the sooner it can be processed.
  • Ask the insurance company when you can expect the adjuster to contact you. This will enable you to be ready when he comes.
  • Take pictures and videos of the damage, including personal items. Include the date of purchase and keep receipts of high-value items in a place where they will not be lost.
  • Keep a record and receipts of everything you spend to make any immediate repairs that maybe possible and are essential. Also, record everything you spend on accommodation and food in case your home is unlivable.
  •  Keep a detailed record of all the actions you take in filing your claim. This includes the people from the insurance company you speak to or correspond with. Note down the dates, times and include details of what was discussed.
  •  Be careful of what you discard. The adjuster may want to see these items. In case you have to discard them because of municipal hazard regulations or for your own safety, take pictures of all that is discarded to show to the adjuster.
  •  If the insurance company offers you the options of signing up for text alerts, do so. This is the quickest way to know the status of your claim, when the estimate is ready and when the payment will be made.

If you have the insurance policies or if you are planning to get additional coverage, talk to your insurance broker about other area or insurance company specific actions you can take to expedite the process, if you should ever have to make a claim.



Most Hurricane Harvey Victims Do Not Have Flood Insurance

Hurricanes are a part of life in many parts of US and people typically take some basic protections against them. It’s good enough at time, but not when something like hurricane Harvey hits. The flooding has been massive as we’ve seen on TV. The billions of dollars of damage that has been caused is a figure that many people may not be able to comprehend; but everyone can relate themselves to pictures of people being taken out of their homes by boats.


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Rescue Is Where Problems Begins

Rescuing people from the flooded areas was, of course, the priority. But for the families, who left flooded basements, water damaged walls and ruined furniture, appliances and valuable behind, the next stage is often a huge question mark. Some may have the resources to rebuild their lives, but the burden will be crushing. For most, the pockets are not deep enough. Many of them will be forced to sell and leave their communities. A major reason is that many of them do not have the insurance coverage they need to rebuild their lives.According to the Consumer Federation of America, only about 2 out of 10 homeowners in Houston have flood insurance.

Homeowners insurance generally covers only damage and loss caused by winds - flooding is not part of the policy.Separate policy is required to protect from flood damage. There are three wrong assumptions that caused so many Houston homeowners to not have the coverage they actually needed:
  •  The premiums flood insurance is thought by many to be too high. Actually, the cost would be even higher if the premiums were not subsidized by the federal government under the National Flood Insurance Program. Unfortunately, people did not realize that the cost of this insurance is reasonable considering the potential loss a flood could cause.
  •  Flood insurance is mandatory for those with federally backed mortgages in high flood risk areas called Special Flood Hazard Zones. Since Houston does not fall into this zone, homeowners thought that the risk was non-existent and so flood insurance was not required. Being outside a flood zone does not guarantee that flooding will not occur, as the residents of Houston found out.
  • A large number of people were under the assumption that state and federal aid that is made available when an emergency is declared will help them to recover. This aid is only meant to help people survive in the aftermath of natural disasters, not to enable them to rebuild their lives and homes.

California Is No Stranger to Flooding

California is no stranger to storms and weather-related property damage. Flooding could happen anywhere, whether or not the area is a flood zone. The fact that fierce storms and wind-related damage has occurred in the past with no flooding does not mean that it will not happen. In Corpus Christi and Rock port the damage was wind-related. In Houston, the same hurricane caused flooding.

California homeowners who do not have flood insurance are at a much greater risk than they realize. To understand the risks and potential loss and get the coverage that is needed, an insurance broker should be consulted. Being rescued from home by boat can be bearable if you know that you have the insurance coverage to rebuild and get back to normal life.