In Case of Loss
Immediately report property damage to us (phone, on-line). We will provide you with claims forms and arrange for an insurance adjuster to visit your property and assess the damage.
Take precautions if the damages require you to leave your home. Secure your property. Remove valuable items. Lock windows and doors. Contact your agent and leave a phone number and address where you can be reached. Take these same precautions if you are forced to evacuate before a storm.
Make emergency repairs and document them. Your policy probably requires you to make emergency repairs to prevent further weather-related damage to your home and its contents. Keep all receipts and take photographs of the damages, before and after emergency repairs, to submit with your claim. You will be reimbursed for your costs.
Don’t make extensive repairs before the claims adjuster arrives. Don’t throw out damaged furniture or other expensive items since the adjuster will want to see them. Make a list of everything you would like to show the adjuster when he or she arrives.
An adjuster is a person professionally trained to assess damage. There are two kinds:
- Company adjusters are employees of larger insurance companies.
- Independent adjusters are usually employed by independent adjusting firms, which contract with insurance companies to handle claims.
No matter which type of adjuster you use, be sure he or she is licensed. Ask to see identification, and if you are still uncertain, give us a call.
Appraisal and Settlement
You may settle personal property and structure claims at separate times. Filing separately allows you to take more time if necessary to determine the full extent of your losses.
If you and your company cannot reach a settlement figure satisfactory to both of you, both parties may hire an appraiser in order to come to a compromise on a figure. You split the cost. If you and the company still disagree, you may hire a third appraiser called an “umpire.” The decision of any two of these people is binding.
It is advisable to use your settlement for its intended purpose, that is, for the repair of your home or the replacement of its contents.
Unless the cost of repairs is a small amount, your insurance company may initially pay you a sum equal to the actual cash value. It will withhold the balance of the full replacement cost amount until after the repairs are completed.
Repair of Your Home
You or your insurance company may contract for the repair of your home. It is advisable to hire only licensed and insured contractors. When possible, try to use local service people, as they can be more easily reached should a problem develop.
Consumers can call the state licensing board to find out if a contractor is licensed. Also, ask to see a contractor’s insurance certificate to verify that the firm carries insurance. This can be extremely important should a worker become injured while working on your property.