The Weather Company predicts that the 2021 hurricane season will be more active than usual. When these natural disasters hit, they leave in their wake families having to pick up the pieces. Will you be ready?
Often the first place people turn after a major hurricane is to their insurance companies. This makes sense. Insurance companies promise to be there with a check and a hug. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize they may also need to protect themselves from the games their insurance companies play.
So let’s consider what you can do now to make sure you’re ready to deal with an insurance claim in case (God forbid) the worst should happen.
1. It isn’t personal, it’s business
First, if you feel that your insurance company is not treating you fairly — and it’s true that in many cases they aren’t — realize, it’s not personal. Insurance companies are driven by profits and simply put, they can’t make money paying out claims.
Sure, insurance companies plan to pay out for eventual losses like the average rate of home fires or car accidents, but large catastrophic events like hurricanes change actuarial tables and threaten the profitability of insurance companies. As a homeowner, you could get caught in the middle.
So what can you do to protect yourself as a business owner? Remember to also deal with your insurance company on a business level. You may have a personal relationship with your insurance agent whom you’ve worked with for years, but when it comes to getting your pay out, be prepared to set aside that personal relationship. You need to be all business.
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2. Flooding isn’t covered by homeowners insurance
Many homeowners are surprised to learn that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. You will learn more about this when you look at some of the key facts about flood insurance.
While damage caused by rain or wind driven rain that comes in through the roof or windows is generally covered, damage caused by water coming up from the bottom is not.
Homeowners who live in areas where flooding is a real threat need to have flood insurance.
In most cases, if you have a mortgage, the bank will require that you get flood insurance. But if your home is paid off, you also need to ensure that you’re taken care of so that you don’t lose everything.
Note that although homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, certain types of auto insurance do. If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, which ensures against damage not caused by an accident, then your car would be covered. In many cases, water damage is bad enough to declare the car a total loss and you will be compensated for the value of the car (minus the deductible).
3. You may be eligible for other emergency assistance during hurricane and flooding
After Hurricane Katrina, most Americans became more familiar with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That is the agency responsible for supporting people anywhere in the country after a natural disaster.
In addition to federal assistance, you may be eligible for emergency assistance through your state or nonprofits. These funds provide emergency housing, medical, and financial assistance. Now is the time to educate yourself about what’s available, not after a hurricane strikes and you’re not sure where you will sleep at night.
You can start by going to DisasterAssistance.gov to find out about aid in your area.
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4. Contact your insurer and start documenting right away before hurricane happens
Of course, after a disaster hits, you’re going to be ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work making repairs. But it’s important to take pictures first. Your insurance company may want you to put up tarps and make temporary fixes to avoid further damage, but again, take pictures before doing anything.
Also, save any receipts from any supplies you purchase to make repairs or any contractors you hire. You’ll need those to get reimbursed later. There are several good apps to help you with documentation. Your insurance company may provide an app as well.
5. Update your home inventory list today
Finally, to ensure that all of your possessions are covered, you need a home inventory. This is truly something you can do right now to prepare for the future. Take photos of your possessions and save all sales receipts in a waterproof safe or online.
When Hurricane Zeta hit my home in 2020, I was so glad I had taken photos of every room in my home as well as all of my most valuable possessions and stored them in the cloud. This meant I could easily access everything and share them with my insurance company.
Make no mistake, your insurance company is part of a machine designed to mitigate profit loss after catastrophic disasters. This machine was built to adjust claims without much room for human empathy or compassion. The good news is that there are laws designed to protect policyholders like you after disaster strikes.
Unfortunately, many are afraid to hire legal professionals to help them hold their insurance companies responsible for what they owe. Too many see lawyers as just another set of opportunistic experts trying to get their own piece of the pie.
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It doesn’t have to be this way! You can find a property attorney near you with a holistic approach to assisting policyholders through the loss and putting them back on the road to recovery. No one should feel they have to pick up the pieces on their own!
About the Author
Galen M Hair, Owner at Insurance Claim HQ, is a property insurance attorney who has helped over 800 families rebuild their homes and businesses. He has been rated a Super Lawyers Rising Star, and voted one of National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Click here to learn more about protecting your property from disaster: https://insuranceclaimhq.com/new-orleans-hurricane-damage-lawyer/