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This article discusses what you need to know about settling an insurance claim after a hurricane. We will cover: 

  • how to file a claim
  • how the claim process works
  • what’s covered and what’s not

 

How to File a Claim

If you are looking for quick settling an insurance claim after a hurricane it is important to start with the beginning. Immediately after property damage occurs, you should contact your insurance company immediately. When communicating with your provider, ask the following questions: 

  • Is the damage covered under your insurance policy terms? 
  • The time period to file a claim
  • If your claim exceeds your deductible
  • How long it takes to process claims
  • If repair estimates are needed

 

Keep All Receipts

Keeping your receipts will expedite settling an insurance claim after a hurricane. Whether you need to relocate or have additional living expenses, be sure to keep all of your receipts. As mentioned in our article, “What Should You Do If Your Property Is Damaged in a Hurricane,” 

Be sure to keep records of any out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to damages, such as: 

  • hotel and lodging costs
  • meals
  • travel expenses
  • clothing
  • furniture
  • personal property

Store these receipts, credit card slips, and other proof of payments in a plastic bag so that they won’t get damaged.  Keep copies of all the repair estimates, appraisals, inspections, and other evaluations completed on your property.  

Prepare for the insurance adjuster’s visits: 

The insurance company may send a proof of loss form for you to complete or send an adjuster first to visit your property. Read about the difference between an insurance adjuster and a public adjuster in this article.  The more detailed information documented about your damages, the better. The detailed information should include the approximate date of purchase, cost to replace or repair, and item description. 

  • To verify your damages, develop a file of damaged or destroyed items and provide a copy to the adjuster and copies of any receipts. Don’t dispose of damaged items until the adjuster has evaluated your property. It would be best if you also photographed or video recorded the damage. 
  • Distinguish structural damage to your property. Create a list of everything you want to show the adjuster. 
  • Keep copies of the lists and other documents you submit to your insurance company. Also, keep duplicates of the paperwork provided by your insurance company and record the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak with about your claim.

 

Factors that determine your settlement amount for settling an insurance claim after a hurricane

Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value: 

Replacement cost policies provide the dollar amount required to replace a damaged item with a comparable item and quality without deducting for depreciation (the decrease in value due to age, wear and tear, and other factors). Actual cash value policies pay the amount needed to replace the item minus depreciation.

Extended and Guaranteed Replacement Cost: If your property is damaged and exceeding repair, the insurance policy will pay to replace it up to the policy’s limits. If your insurance policy’s value has been retained with increases in local building costs, a similar property can generally be built for an amount within the policy limits.

With an extended replacement cost policy, your insurance company will pay a certain percentage over the limit to rebuild your 20% or more of the property, depending on the insurer. Some insurance companies offer guaranteed replacement cost policies that pay to rebuild your home or business. However, neither of these policy types will pay for more expensive materials than those used in the infrastructure before the damages. 

Insurance Policy Limits

Typically insurance policies provide sufficient coverage with the inflation-guard clause to maintain increases in local building costs. If your policy includes replacement cost coverage, the insurance company will cover the entire cost to repair or replace the damages with “like kind and quality”. However, you may not be fully covered if you have made significant improvements on your property, such as expanding your deck or enclosing your porch without properly notifying the insurance company. 

Rebuilding and Repairs

If your property was destroyed, there are options covered by the insurance company: 

  • Rebuilding a property at the same location
  • Depending on the state’s law, you can sell, build, or buy property in a different location

You do have an option to opt-out of rebuilding and settling an insurance claim after a hurricane. If you opt-out of rebuilding, the settlement amount depends on state law, what the court’s state, and the kind of insurance policy you have. 

Additional Factors

Current building codes compliance: Building codes require infrastructures to be constructed with specific minimum standards. For hurricane-prone areas, buildings must be built to withstand high winds. If your property was damaged and wasn’t in compliance with current building codes, the damaged sections will be rebuilt with current regulations. 

Hiring Public Adjusters

Your insurance company provides an adjuster that works on their behalf to assess your damages. But who will work on your behalf to ensure that your claim is handled correctly, your settlement is fair, and understand your claim’s intricacies? A public adjuster is the answer. Hiring a public adjuster comes with many benefits, including maximum payout from the insurance company, a team of insurance experts on your side, and expediting property restoration. Are you worried about the fees and costs associated with hiring a public adjuster? Read this article, “How Much Will a Public Adjuster Cost?”. 

After your claim is settled and the restoration process has begun, review your insurance policy to evaluate coverage gaps. Now that an insurance claim is complete and you recently went through the filing process, you can decide to modify your insurance policy, if necessary. 

If you or someone you know is currently frustrated with their insurance claim, share this article along with our information. We will set up a consultation to understand their claim and create a plan of action.