If you're preparing to evacuate before a hurricane hits your area but aren't sure what you can do to minimize the amount of work you'll need to do upon your return, your best bet is to prepare as though your home will be a total loss—that is, to document your belongings and personal property in a way that makes it difficult for an insurance adjuster to deny any later claims of loss. Read on to learn more about preserving your rights when it comes to submitting a claim for storm damage.
What Should You Document?
Submitting a claim after a hurricane or tropical storm damages your home and personal property can be a complex process. Instead of issuing you a blank check to compensate you for your property, your insurance adjuster will likely want some sort of accounting of the items you're submitting, when or where you purchased them, and the approximate price you paid.
The purpose of this documentation is twofold. First, this ensures that you're not attempting to artificially inflate the amount of your claim by claiming your items were far more valuable (or expensive) than they actually were. And second, you are ensuring that the list you provide is the full, complete accounting of your losses, preventing you from later coming back in search of funds for items you mistakenly omitted from your list.
This means that the documentation you submit to your insurance company needs to be thorough, truthful, and complete. One way to get a head start on this is to take some photos of each room of your home before you leave and capture serial numbers or product names where applicable, such as when photographing your television, computer, or surround sound system. This will make it much easier to recreate an inventory of your belongings upon your return, especially if your home doesn't look nearly as neat and tidy as it was when you left.
In other cases, taking a short walk-through video of your home can be a great source of data for your insurance company without taking away the valuable time you need to prepare your home and vacate the area.
What Should You Keep in Mind When Submitting a Damage Claim?
When submitting a damage claim to your insurance company, it's important to be thorough. This can mean taking some extra time to prepare your claim rather than simply dashing off a response to your insurance adjuster. While you may be eager to receive your insurance check and begin replacing your lost belongings, rushing this process could mean leaving money on the table. Depending upon the amount of damage you're facing, you may want to seek an attorney's assistance, such as those found at the Law Offices of Jeremy W McKey.