Any time a severe weather event happens, the insurance companies become overwhelmed with claims. This means the process can be quite drawn out, causing payments to take longer than homeowners would like for them to. Unfortunately, much of the delay is due to claims that contain errors and a number of other issues that can come about during the claims process. The good news is that if you know how to play your cards right, you may be able to fast-track your insurance claim so you can get your money as soon as possible and work toward getting life back to normal.
The Inevitable Wait
Experts in the insurance industry agree that there is going to be some degree of waiting after a storm. A couple of extreme examples include Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma. Wilma made landfall in Florida in 2005 and it was 2009 before approximately 2,000 homeowners saw any money. Katrina also had quite a few waiting for answers years after the storm occurred. This is not saying that you would have to wait four years before seeing the cash to repair your home, but a sizeable storm is one that is going to cause an inevitable wait.
This wait is because the processing of claims is time consuming for the insurance companies, especially if it is not entirely clear how the damage occurred. Although insurers want to process claims quickly, they will do everything they can to limit their number of payouts by determining whether damage was related to flood or wind. The reason this determination is important is because homeowner’s insurance policies will cover wind, but not all policies cover flood unless the homeowner added flood insurance to their policy. If they never added flood insurance or flood insurance didn’t come standard with their policy (it usually doesn’t), the insurance will deny the claim.
Don’t Be Stuck At The End Of The Claims Line
It is going to depend almost completely on you as to how long you are waiting in the claims line. For starters, you want to call your insurance company’s claims hotline as soon as you can. This number is going to be found in your policy documents. If you hesitate to make the call, you’re pushing yourself toward the back of the line.
Unfortunately, many homeowners do not make the call immediately because they are not sure if they have the right kind of damage or enough damage to warrant a claim. The fact is that those details are reserved for the insurance adjuster. If it is determined the damage is not greater than your deductible, then you do have a decision to make. If the damage is more than your deductible, then you will save money. If the damage is not covered by your policy, you will be informed of this.
Providing The Right Information
In reality, it doesn’t matter how fast you make the call if the right information is not provided in detail. You need to make sure you don’t get into a rush on the telephone and provide the right information from the start. This will actually speed up the claim. You will need to take an inventory of the damage before making the call. Of course, you do want to do this quickly while also being thorough. In this inventory, you will write down, take photographs of the damage to the property, and also write down the type of damage and take photographs of the possessions that were damaged. This will make the insurance adjuster’s job much easier.
It can also help a great deal to collect any before photos of items. Most people do not think to take photos of their home and possessions before a disaster strikes, but you may have inadvertently taken photos. You also want to gather up any purchase records and repair estimates from contractors that you have already called upon to assess the damage. This does not mean the adjuster still won’t look at everything for what they believe it is worth, but providing all of this information gives them a great place to start.
Make Life Easier For The Adjuster
Another thing to consider although your life is the one that has been flipped upside down over a natural disaster you had no control over, is to make life as easy for the adjuster as possible. Most adjusters are going to be contracted, especially when there is a natural disaster that requires the insurance company to do estimates as quickly as possible. Due to most contracted adjusters being from out of town, they may not be familiar with the construction types and local pricing.
Because of the adjuster’s possible lack of knowledge about how things are in your area, you may want to try hiring your own adjuster who will work with the adjuster the insurance company sends. This also helps you expedite your case in a more streamlined way. Yes, there is a cost to do this, but it could be the difference between accepting the amount of money the insurance company’s adjuster says you are due or receiving the amount that will truly repair your home.
Addressing Unusual Issues
It can also help a great deal to make sure the insurance company is aware of even the most unusual issues because these unusual issues are usually noteworthy. For instance, you may have a disabled family member and the temporary housing that you are in does not accommodate that disability. Although the insurance company is not obligated to push your claim to the front of the line for such a reason, they may do so out of respect. Yes, this means you are playing on their heart strings a little bit, but the insurance company should know any time someone has an illness or a disability that alternate housing can have a negative effect on.
So all in all, it comes down to making sure you do not hesitate to make your claim, that you sometimes take matters into your own hands by getting your own estimates and your own adjuster, and ensuring that every piece of information you can possibly provide the insurance company is provided. When you do everything right, you can have the money in your hand to repair your home much sooner. The fewer hurdles they have to overcome, the better it is for you.