If your home or business is hit hard by a hurricane, flood, storm or fire, you need to file an insurance claim as soon as possible.
First, alert all the possible insurance carriers that may have a policy covering the event. This includes not only your insurance carrier but also the insurance carrier for your commercial or residential landlord, condominium owners association or any other party with an interest in the property. Additionally, if you live in the coastal counties, you likely have different carriers for your flood insurance, homeowners insurance and windstorm insurance. You need to notify each and every carrier. If you run a business, you also need to contact your commercial general liability carrier to make sure they are aware of possible claims for lost income, business interruption and destroyed business property.
Next, when it is safe to re-enter the premises, you’ll need to inventory and photograph your property, both inside and outside, to capture any damages, including flooding. But be safe. Never enter a structurally unsound building. A fire or water damaged home may pose a serious danger to anyone who enters. When a flood is the cause of the damage, you should try to show the height of the water line inside the structure with your photos. This is easily accomplished by placing a ruler, tape measure or a shoe in the photograph to give perspective.
Try and get an inventory, room by room, of all of your lost personal property. Some property which is covered by mold or other hazards may need to be disposed of, but try and photograph the damages before you start throwing out your belongings. Finally, carefully inspect all of your property which was in or near the flooded area for moisture damage. Electronics, artwork, papers and other delicate items may be damaged, even though they were exposed to moisture in small amounts or only for a short duration. Likewise, furniture and upholstery may warp with only minimal exposure to water. Carefully inspect the underside, joints and finishes of all of your furniture for warping, which may not be easy to see from a distance.
When it is possible, you should try and note the value of any damaged or missing goods, including the original purchase price. If you have the old receipts or credit card bills for items, make sure to remove them from the damaged structure and save them.
Be sure to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Many insurance companies maintain claims hotlines to handle the large volume of calls after a storm or flood. Report the claim in full. You should err on the side of providing too much information, not too little. When an adjuster comes out to make a report, take your time – do not be rushed – and go room by room. If you are worried you will forget an item of concern, write it down before the adjuster arrives. This will help you both make a full and complete report to the carrier.
Make sure all damaged property is visible and accessible for the adjuster to inspect. If you have moved damaged items outdoors or into the garage to dry, don’t forget to have them inspected.
Unfortunately, all of the detailed records and photographs in the world may not help you in the event your claim is wrongfully denied. Insurance fraud is not just a matter of some bad policyholders making unsubstantiated claims. Insurance fraud can also occur when an insurance company decides to unfairly deny you the benefits of the policy you purchased. The timely payment of an insurance claim is an essential step in putting policyholders and businesses back on their feet.
If you believe you have suffered from insurance fraud, unnecessary delays, or the bad faith denial of benefits a Texas insurance claims lawyer may be able to help. A claim denial attorney from our firm can provide you a free review of you insurance claim case, and we are happy to discuss your insurance problems with you.
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