Unfortunately, it rarely works that way in real life. Instead, if a disaster such as a fire, hurricane, earthquake or hailstorm damages your home, it's important to advocate for yourself.
Here are nine ways to get the best results from your insurance claim after a disaster:
Know what your policy covers. Every insurance policy is different in regards to coverage. Deductibles may not be the same for all types of claims. Does your policy pay for the actual cash value of your home and contents, or do you have replacement cost coverage, which pays the cost of buying new stuff or rebuilding your house, with some limitations? You may need to add what's called ordinance or law coverage to pay for upgrades that are required by building codes. Most of the time if you have substantial damage, there are going to be upgrades that you'll need to make.
Document your loss. That could mean providing photos or video showing the damaged items or producing a copy of a household inventory or receipts. What a lot of people don't understand is that the burden of proof is on you, as the insured. You have to produce a document, produce an estimate.
Protect your home from further damage. If your roof is blown off or your windows are broken, the insurance company expects you to secure those openings before more damage occurs, which may not be covered. Some companies may look at it as negligence if you don't take the necessary precautions.
Negotiate if you don't like the initial offer. Get estimates from multiple contractors and send them to the insurance company with your request for reconsideration. Insurance companies are relying too heavily on computer programs to estimate repair costs. You can expect that there will be a gap between the amount the insurance company says it will cost to make repairs and the estimates you get from local contractors.
Hire licensed contractors. Get at least three estimates, and check references, licenses and insurance. Never hire a contractor who says he was simply "in the neighborhood." After a disaster, reputable contractors don't need to solicit business, and those who go door to door are often unlicensed at best and scammers at worst.
Vet the contractors recommended by your insurance company. In some cases, insurance companies have a list of contractors who have agreed to do the work for what the company will pay. Ask about warranties, references, licenses and insurance. Sometimes these people that they bring in are good and sometimes they're not. If you don't like those contractors, you can choose your own.
Consider hiring a public adjuster. If you'd rather let someone else handle your claim, or if you feel the amount offered is inadequate, a public adjuster may be able to help. Before you hire a public adjuster, ask for references and check the adjuster out as you would any other contractor. The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters is a good place to start. "It's very hard for the average consumer to self-advocate in these situations. It can be challenging to take on an insurance company because they've got armies of lawyers on their payrolls.
Beware of scams. Disasters bring scam artists out of the woodwork. Be wary of out-of-town roofing companies and contractors who are simply stopping by to solicit your business. Remember that good contractors don't need to solicit business after a disaster.
Allow us to review your insurance policy. Call us today!