Errors to avoid when filing a natural disaster claim

Natural disasters pose the greatest threat to your home. Extreme weather events can cause property and house damage that can reach hundreds of thousands of dollar.

It is crucial to file insurance claims within the immediate aftermath of an event. It’s easy for people to make mistakes during this period. You’ll be able to recover the financial loss caused by the disaster if you are aware of what to do.

What is the insurance coverage for a natural catastrophe?

Different types of policies cover the damage to homes in case of natural disasters insurance. Which policies are in effect when the disaster occurs will determine how much protection your home and possessions receive.

What homeowners insurance covers HO-2 or HO-3?

These policies generally cover damages to residences and personal property from the following:

  • Lightning or fire
  • Hailstorms or windstorms
  • Explosion
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Falling object
  • Weight of sleet, snow, or ice
  • Inadvertent discharge of water or steam from home items
  • Some home items may be accidentally or suddenly ripped apart or burned.
  • Freezing certain home systems, such as plumbing
  • Accidental and sudden damage caused by artificially generated electricity

You may have restrictions on the nature and cause of the catastrophe. For any exceptions, check with your provider.

Common coverages for condo and renters insurance

Insurance for renters or condos/co-ops often covers the same perils that are covered by insurance for homeowners. This coverage does not cover personal property.

Condo insurance policyholders receive “walls in” coverage which covers permanent fixtures inside the home. Regular coverage is not provided by HO-4 (renters or condo) policies.

What are homeowners and renters policies not covering?

  • Flood damage. Renters and homeowners insurance often exclude flood damage. A separate flood insurance policy will be required, offered by the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Flood damage is often excluded from standard homeowners and renters insurance. Additional coverage may be purchased from the provider. Many providers also offer separate earthquake insurance policies.
  • Neglecting to maintain: The insurance company won’t cover damages caused by negligence.
  • Sewer backup. Damage from sewer backup is often excluded from renters and homeowners insurance. This coverage is offered by some providers for an additional charge.

How to file a successful claim

You must act quickly after a natural disaster causes property damage. Insurance claims can be very time sensitive so make sure you review all policies before filing any. You should file your claim as soon as possible after the damage has occurred.

Step 1: Emergency repairs

If you are not sure what the damage is, take pictures before you touch it. Make emergency repairs if necessary. Make only the essential repairs necessary to protect you and your family. Keep all receipts.

Step 2: Take photos

To give a complete account of the damage to your home caused by the natural disaster, take as many photos as possible. It’s a good idea not only to document the damage but also to take photos of the unaffected areas of your house as a comparison.

It can help to include rulers or yardsticks in your photos to give exact measurements of flood damage to your home. As a rule of thumb, you should not touch any property until you have documented all the damage with photos.

Step 3: Get in touch with the provider

Once you have all evidence, file the claim. You should be able to take photographs and get in touch with your provider as soon as the damage has occurred. It will be more difficult to file a claim if you wait too long.

Talk to the claims adjuster only when necessary. Keep the conversation short and to the point. You should have a clear understanding of the claims process, and the information that the provider will require. Part of the process will include a home inspection.

Step 4: Verify contractors

If your claim is approved, the provider will allow you to make repairs. Although your provider may recommend contractors, you don’t need to hire them. You have the freedom to choose.

Hire only reputable people. The process could be slowed down if you use other contractors than those recommended by the provider.

Avoid these mistakes when filing a claim

Even under the best of circumstances, filing an insurance claim can be a complicated process filled with pitfalls. Even the most experienced homeowner can be affected by natural disasters that cause severe damage to their home. The claims process can prove to be a tedious and frustrating experience. You should have all the information you need to file a successful claim. Here are some things to avoid.

Too long delay in filing the claim

You have a limited time to file claims, so get it done as soon as you can. You can also make your claim immediately after the disaster to ensure that the damage to your home is fresher and easier to identify for home inspection.

Damaged property should be ignored

Document everything after a natural disaster has damaged your home. You should treat your home as if it were a crime scene and avoid touching anything. You may be able to take photos of any areas that need repairs in an emergency situation.

Failure to prevent further damage

Temporary repairs may be the only way to prevent your home from becoming more damaged by the natural disaster. These repairs are often required by home insurance policies. Failure to make these repairs could result in your claim being denied.

Losing receipts

Keep track of every dollar spent on damages to your home caused by the natural disaster. To be reimbursed for any expenses incurred after a claim is filed, you will need to keep receipts. You will need to retain receipts for lodging and food receipts if your policy covers “loss of use” coverage.

Not having a home inventory

It may be difficult to recall what you had if your personal property has suffered extensive damage. It will be much easier to compare the before and after photos if you have a complete inventory of your home. This helps you to claim all the items that were damaged in the disaster. This inventory also serves as evidence for the adjuster.

Failure to recognize fraud

Insurance fraud is a common problem. It is vital to tell the truth about your home’s damage when you file a claim for damages caused by a natural catastrophe. You must declare that your home was damaged by an event that is not covered under your policy. Insurance fraud involves attempting to attribute the damage to a covered peril. Contractor fraud can also be committed, which could jeopardize any claim. It is important to hire reputable contractors. Fraudulent claims could lead to criminal charges.

Commonly asked questions

Which is the best company for home insurance?

The best home insurance depends upon the homeowner’s needs. The size and price of homes can vary greatly, so the homeowner’s coverage requirements may be different. It’s a smart idea to get quotes from several different insurance companies to see how they compare.

Flood insurance: Where can I get it?

Flood damage is often excluded from homeowners insurance. You will need separate flood insurance policies. Flood policies can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program. Private providers may also offer them.

Is my home insurance able to cover wildfires

Wildfire damage is usually covered by standard home insurance policies. According to Allstate some homeowners might have difficulty finding home insurance if they live in an area prone to wildfires.

Is insurance available to cover natural disasters?

It all depends on what type of insurance you have and the nature of the disaster. To understand the protection of your personal property and home in case of natural disasters, pay attention to what is covered by your insurance policy.