Filing a Hurricane Damage Claim: Things to Keep In Mind

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Filing a Hurricane Damage Claim: Things to Keep In Mind

Hurricanes are one of the events no homeowner is willing to experience. Most homeowners are more concerned about the number of bathrooms, proximity to work, and backyard size during a home purchase.

Checking if an area is prone to hurricanes is another essential factor during the home search. Every mile of the U.S. Gulf and East Coast is vulnerable to a hurricane, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Hurricanes are large swirling storms with violent wind speeds of at least 74 mph. Aside from damaging properties, they can cause human deaths. A typical example is Hurricane Ida, which slammed into Grand Isle, Louisiana, on August 29, 2021, killing over 50 people.

The impact of the hurricane is felt even months later. If you are one of the homeowners affected by the storm, it is essential you contact your insurance company before the hurricane Ida claims deadline elapses.

What is a hurricane insurance damage claim?

Technically, there is no insurance policy solely dedicated to hurricane damages. To get coverage for hurricane damage, you will need to purchase a homeowner's insurance that covers wind damage and then a separate policy for flood damage.

After a hurricane, you will need to file a claim for damages caused by wind, such as broken windows, ripped-off shingles, and roof tiles.

However, homeowners in hurricane zones like Florida may be required to get an additional policy to cover a hurricane.

Insurance companies usually do not offer coverage once the federal government declares a hurricane watch in an area. That is why purchasing the required policies before such time is recommended.

States that are prone to hurricane

How to file a successful insurance claim after hurricane damage

Hurricane claims can be lengthy, and insurance companies will likely get overwhelmed during such a period. Following the proper steps can help you get your claims approved faster.

Before filing a hurricane damage claim, ensure your family’s safety. Get photos and videos of the damage, as they can help prove your claim. If you need to do some instant repairs after the hurricane, such as door and roof repair, keep the damaged items as evidence.

Contact your insurance agent or company

Notify your insurance agent or company of the damages immediately. Depending on the magnitude of the hurricane, some insurance company may send their agents to your area to make it easier for policyholders to file a claim.

Ask for the required documents to file the claim and things they would prefer you do not tamper with until they assign an adjuster.

Keep records of your claim log

It is essential to keep records of your communication with the insurance company. When you are talking to a company representative on the phone, ask for their names. If you are chatting with them using their virtual assistant tool, take screenshots of the conversation or request the transcript at the end of the session.

This will come in handy whenever you need to recall any detail that might help your claim.

Check your insurance policy

If your insurance provider has an online portal, check your policy to confirm the coverages and limits. You can also ask the insurer for clarification.

Checking these details will help you understand what the insurer is obliged to repair and what you might need to handle yourself.

Reviewing the policy can also help you estimate the maximum compensation to expect from the insurance provider.

Things to check in the coverage include:

  • Dwelling coverage: This indicates the maximum amount the insurance provider is willing to pay for repairs and replacement of your home if it gets damaged by the hurricane.  
  • Coverage B: It is usually 10 percent of the dwelling coverage, and it is set aside for repairing and replacing structures not directly attached to your home, such as a garage.
  • Personal property coverage: It is calculated based on the repairs and repayment you did yourself following the damages caused by the hurricane.
  • Additional Living Expenses (ALE): This is an emergency fund the insurance company provides for homeowners to find another place to stay after hurricane damages. They usually do not request paperwork before disbursing this fund.

Prepare for the insurance adjuster

After informing your insurance company of the hurricane damages, they will assign an adjuster to assess them.

Sometimes, the adjuster may not be present at your home physically. Instead, the assessment is conducted virtually, and you may be asked to take the camera from room to room and around the property to show the damages.

Based on the information you can provide and physical evidence of the damages, the adjuster will submit an estimate for review.

Hire a public adjuster (if needed)

You may want to hire an independent adjuster if you disagree with the assessment of the adjuster assigned by the insurance company.

The adjuster may also guide you on the best methods to file your claim, especially if it is complex.

Get your claim

Getting a complete claim settlement can take a few weeks to several months. If you notice the company is taking longer than expected, contact them and document your conversation.

Research the time frame set by your state’s authority for claims to be approved or denied. If you are unsatisfied with the wait time or why the claim is denied, consider hiring a hurricane damage claim lawyer.

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