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Prepare for spring storms: What to do after a severe weather event

Contact: Jennifer Bowen

(334) 269-3550

3/6/2018

No matter where you live, now is the time to prepare for the spring severe weather season. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers these tips to help protect you and your family from extreme weather events.

This is part two of the Prepare for Spring Storms series. To review what to do before a storm hits, click here.

After the Storm

The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but report your insurance claim(s) as quickly as possible to help protect your financial future.

Contact your insurer and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.

Document damage by taking photographs/video before you begin any clean-up. After you've documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further harm to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don't make permanent repairs until your insurer has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from temporary fixes.

If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurer or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.

Work with your insurer to learn what documents, forms and data you need for your claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurer and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits, and contact details. Provide your insurer with all of the requested information, as incorrect or incomplete information may delay your claim.

If the first offer made by the insurer does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the insurer for the specific language in the policy and determine why you and the insurer interpret your policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, contact your state insurance department.

Protect Yourself from Fraud

Home repair fraud is common after a major weather event. Get more than one bid from contractors and request at least three references. Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance and bonding. Record the contractor's license plate number and driver's license number, and then check for any complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Finally, be wary of contractors who demand up-front payment for repairs. Ask for references and verify contractors are legitimate.