Insurance Claims for Property Damage


Mark Decherd

Your home has just been struck by a crashing tree, tornado, vandals, wildfire, or some other calamity. What do you do? Where do you begin? Assuming you’ve already safely evacuated the home and secured it from additional damage, your next step involves a call to your insurance company. And then the insurance claims process begins. . .

Filing insurance claims for property damage begins by notifying your insurance company that damage has occurred. From there, you will need to fill out paperwork, meet with an adjuster, document your losses, and arrange for repairs. You will also need to pay your insurance deductible and ultimately settle the claim. Depending on the extent of the damage, this can be a challenging and lengthy process.

Use a digital or video camera as soon as possible to document the damage to your property. The sooner you can safely document the damage, the better. For example, hail damage is often difficult to prove, especially on older roofs. Start documenting before the hailstones melt to prove that your house was indeed pounded on by damaging hailstones. Be as thorough as possible, documenting all damage to your home as well as to your belongings. It is also smart to videotape destruction within the community as further proof that this wasn’t an isolated event.

While it may be tempting to discard damaged goods, only do so if the damaged items are hazardous or harmful such as broken shards of glass or waterlogged furniture that will soon turn to mold. If you must discard damaged items, take detailed photos beforehand. Consider cutting off swatches of fabric to prove that the furniture was made of expensive leather rather than cheap vinyl.

Ideally, you will have anticipated future insurance claims long ago. If you had the foresight to do so, gather your home inventory documents, photos, and videos. You will share these with your insurance adjuster to prove your losses. If you didn’t, you may need to go through credit card records and receipts to prove how much you paid for specific items.

Use a notebook and assess your home, building by building, room by room, for damage. Use a system to ensure that you do not overlook anything. Work in a clockwise direction, surveying each element of each room systematically from the top down and from left to right. With this system, you would enter a room, and note the area immediately to the left of the door.

Let’s say that it is the master bedroom. Examine the ceiling area of the wall to the left of the door. Note any leaks or damages in your notebook. Any damage to the wall? The floor? The furniture against the wall? Move to the next wall and repeat, working your way around the room and noting any damage as you go. Use a separate piece of paper for each room and attach any photos that support your notes.

Once you have assessed the damage, use your notes to create a list of losses, room by room, and write down the value of each item lost or damaged. If you don’t know the value or haven’t received an estimate for repairs, that’s fine. Just make sure that you have a master list of all losses so that nothing is overlooked.

Your insurance adjuster will arrive to evaluate the damage. After he has examined your home, make sure that everything on your list has been noted by the adjuster. Remember that the burden of proof is on you, so while it may be hard to go through and prove your losses, it will be worth your time.

Once the insurance company has agreed that a covered loss has occurred, it’s time put your contractors to work repairing your home. Look for local, reputable contractors that are licensed, insured, and committed to quality.

The insurance claims and home restoration process is lengthy and it requires your active participation. Your attention to detail and efforts at documenting the damage will help get the claim off to a good start.

By: Mr. Mark Decherd

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Dryout® Inc. 1415 Colonial Blvd.Fort Myers, Fl. 33907http://www.dryout.net239-437-7100Water Damage


Dryout Inc Emergency water damage restoration, drying, deodorization, decontamination, disinfection, mold removal, water damage repair, restoration and reconstruction of commercial and residential properties damaged by fire, water and other disasters by a network of trained specialists, technicians and restoration professionals across the USA and Canada.

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