Those property owners who were unfortunate now have a daunting task of cleanup and filing insurance claims. The filing process may be confusing and insurance companies sometimes are not completely fair and often times act in their own interest. With that said, here are some tips that everyone should keep in mind to make the process smoother and maximize the settlement amount.
- Before starting any cleanup, document the damage by making detailed photos of everything that has be affected, if possible.
- Before throwing anything out, make a list of all damaged or lost items, especially the high ticket items, such as TVs, computers and other electronics, writing down model and serial numbers if available. Having receipts is a big plus.
- When filing the insurance claim, the company will send out their adjuster in order to assess damages and come up with a dollar amount. This amount may not necessarily be the maximum you can get. Naturally they will try to offer you a smaller settlement. If you have a good knowledge of what your damage is worth and you have it well documented, this may be the right choice for you as you can negotiate the claim amount. If you choose to do it yourself, don’t agree to the insurance final settlement amount until you’re satisfied. Get the second opinion from a local contractor or hire a public adjuster.
- If you’re unsure how to document and file the claim yourself, hire a public adjuster who will handle the claim process for you. Rather than filing on your own, a public adjuster analyzes your insurance policies, documents the property damage and works directly with the insurance company to negotiate a better settlement. Normally the settlement is faster and you get the check sooner. Note that public adjusters work for a percentage of the claim, so be sure to ask what their fees are.
- You may qualify for additional government disaster assistance. To check qualifications and apply, register for assistance online. Also check FEMA website to find out what you need before you apply.