H.P Lovecraft once wrote that “the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” For all the spooks and scares facing homeowners this October, the worst may be not knowing how to deal with the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. Trees have been uprooted. Winds have torn siding from your walls. Your roof is in tatters. Flood waters have destroyed your furniture. Your carpet will require, at the very least, an extensive cleaning if not total replacement. Your drywall will need replaced. The insulation behind the walls needs to go. And to make matters worse, there is the ever present lurking horrors of mold growth spawned by stagnant flood water, asbestos in houses built before 1978, and lead paint revealed by storm damage. It’s enough to make one’s skin crawl. But you don’t need to go it alone, follow this advice and you may avoid a costly and painful experience as you recover from Hurricane Matthew.
Your Insurance Company Is a Business-And This Can Be a Good Thing
The first thing a homeowner should know about filing an insurance claim is that your insurance company is a business. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, your insurance company wants you as a customer. Use this to your advantage when you begin to file your claim. Contact your insurance company immediately following the damage to your home. They should be glad to answer your questions and help you out. Ask them the following questions:
· What damage is covered under the terms of my policy?
· How do I file a claim?
· What is my deductible?
· How long will it take to process my claim?
· What do I need to show in terms of estimates for repairs?
· Does my policy include coverage for loss of power, or damages resulting from loss of power? If it does, does my policy also cover the cost of replacing food that was in my fridge when the power went out, or the cost of a hotel room where I stayed while the power was out?
The Fact That Your Insurer Is a Business Can Also Be A Bad Thing
But you should also be aware that as a business, your insurance company may not be your best friend. In the wake of a natural disaster your interests and your insurance company’s interests are at odds with each other. You want to be compensated for your damage. Your insurance company wants to avoid paying out large sums of money that may reduce its bottom line. Don’t be surprised, then, if your left feeling lost in the woods after reading through your insurance policy and speaking to your insurance agent. Insurance companies will do what they can to avoid paying out money that they don’t want to pay out. For homeowners with multiple policies, the confusion over what types of damage necessitate paying which deductible on which policy can be exploited by an insurance company. In such cases, your insurance company may expect you to pay the deductible on each of your policies before you recover. However, if you happen to have a separate policy for wind damage and a separate policy for flood damage, you would have to sustain damage caused by both wind and flood before being required to pay the deductible on the respective policy. If you are unsure of what you need to do under your policy to recover, it would be wise to reach out to a skilled lawyer who can help you interpret your policy and provide advice applicable to your particular situation. Contact Miller Law Group for a free consultations regarding your specific situation if you feel you need help.
Here are some simple steps you can take as you navigate the process of dealing with your insurance company regarding your claim:
1. Take pictures and keep records of what was damaged.
2. Document your interactions with the insurance company.
3. Keep all the information regarding this claim in one place so it is easy to access.
4. Contact an attorney if you have questions or are unsure how to proceed.