Filing claims after storm damage

Filing claims after storm damage

As people start to pick up the pieces left behind from the storm, many are beginning to turn to their insurance companies to file claims.

"We're hearing about a lot of debris," said Ann Roberson, a spokesperson for the State of South Carolina Department of Insurance. "A lot of tree limbs and that sort of thing."

The sort of things that may have brought damages to people's homes during the wintry weather that struck the CSRA just last week.

"We're asking people that if they do have damages to their roofs or any sorts of damages they've experience, they need to first of all make temporary repairs," Roberson said. "If it means putting a tarp over any areas exposed or what have you."

After those changes are made, call your insurance provider about the damage.

"Get an adjuster out their on the property to take a look at the damage and assess it. So that they can quickly move to remedy does damages," Roberson said.

For a quicker response, make sure you detail all the damages by providing proof.

"You're going to need to have a list of those items," Roberson added. "You can make a manual list in your home of all your belongings. It's often easier to use an app people can use on their mobile device and walk around and actually get that same information in a much easier format."

But beware. Not everything is covered.

"If you have limbs, in your yard, scattered in your yard, that have not impacted your structure, that is something that the homeowner is required to remove. That is generally not covered under your home owner's policy. It's always good to ask but generally it's not covered."

While there is no sure way to prevent natural disasters, by maintaining an inventory of things in your home, you can be better prepared when trying to file claims after damages happen.

If you are going to get someone to clean the debris that your insurance will not cover, follow these tips:

  • Deal only with licensed and insured contractors. Consumers stand their best chance of getting the most out of their insurance if they work with approved contractors.
  • Be wary of builders or contractors who go door-to-door selling their services, especially those who are not known in your community.
  • Don't rush into signing a contract. Get written estimates from at least three firms. Ask contractors if there is any charge for an estimate before allowing them into your home.
  • Don't automatically choose the lowest bidder. Get a copy of the final, signed contract.
  • Beware of fly-by-night outfits offering cheap repairs. Consumers should hire someone who will stand by their work and can be found if any problems develop.
  • Pay only by check or credit card.
  • If you have not heard from your adjuster, call them again.  They may have visited your home when you were not there.
  • If you are not staying in your home, leave a sign with your insurance company's name and your name prominently displayed to help insurance adjusters find your house.  DO NOT put your policy number or claim number on a sign or where other people can find it.

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