It’s the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, now downgraded from a hurricane as it leaves North Carolina. Matthew, the second major hurricane in the Atlantic Basin this year, left destruction in its wake after pummeling Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Matthew is responsible for the deaths of at least 17 people in the United States, according to reports, and some reports estimate that the hurricane caused billions of dollars in damage.
Mass power loss and flooding is widespread across the southeast, and residents of the four states hit by the storm will be busy assessing the damage to their homes and properties in the coming weeks.
Naturally, you will want to file an insurance claim if your property is damaged. But how do you know exactly what you need to do to have a successful claim to make necessary repairs?
Here are the basic things you can do to bolster your insurance claim.
Cover Up Your Damaged Property
After a storm like Hurricane Matthew, it is important that you cover up damaged property with a tarp or plastic, to prevent water intrusion or further damage from occurring.
The insurance company will use any reason to dispute your insurance claim, and further damage to your property could jeopardize your chances of getting reimbursement. This is because the insurance company could argue it was your fault for the damage and outright deny your claim.
Document Anything and Everything on Your Property
You’ll want to take out your camera or phone and start taking photos. It is recommended that you start outside and take photos of all four sides of your home and as much of the roof as you can — all using wide angles. Do this with any other buildings on site, too.
In addition, make sure to take photos of your entire yard. Start with wide shots and then take some closer shots with more detail.
After that, head inside and start taking photos of entire rooms. You can take closer shots of individual items, too, but wider shots of each room is a must.
Having a complete record of everything in photographs is important. You’ll be able to provide an accurate representation of the damage and losses endured, if you need to file a claim.
As you take your photographs, make an inventory of damaged property. This will also help with your claim.
File Your Claim as Quickly as You Can
Insurance policies typically require you to act fast after storm damage, and the sooner you act the better. This is why it’s important that you take photographs, write or record your inventory, and file your claim as quickly as you can.
Hire an Attorney to Help Make the Insurance Company Honest
Why would you need an insurance attorney for your Hurricane Matthew claim? Well, sometimes those three solid steps above aren’t enough. Even though you’re doing your part to live up to your end of the deal, insurance companies don’t always live up to theirs.
For example, an insurance company might dispute whether a home was destroyed by wind before the storm surge pummeled it. Wind is covered and storm surges aren't.
Here are some tactics insurance companies use to make your life more complicated, even after you already have had to deal with a life upended by a major hurricane.
- Denial that insurance coverage even exists;
- Denial of your claim because your claim is excluded or partially excluded under your policy;
- Denies any part of your claim;
- Unreasonably delays the processing, adjustment, or payment of your claim;
- Makes misleading or false statements to you;
- Refuses to pay you under one coverage or attempts to force you to settle under other policy coverage;
- Tries to lowball you with undervalued estimates, offer or payments;
- Tells you that you do not need a lawyer to resolve the claim;
- Requires a written release of any supplemental claim as a condition of settlement or payment on your claim; or
- The check for payment from your insurer or the letter that accompanies it uses terms like “full” or “final” when you reasonably believe that you have a supplemental or additional claim for that loss.
If you encounter any of the above issues — or any other dispute with your insurance — don’t hesitate to call us at 877-667-4265 or fill out this free, no-risk case evaluation form. We’re here to help keep insurance companies accountable, and give you the opportunity to get your life back on track.