How to File a Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim
- Insurance 101
- How to File a Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim
Hurricanes are seemingly becoming more prevalent and stronger as the years go by. If your home and belongings are damaged or destroyed by its gale-force winds, torrential downpour or something in the middle, you need to know how to get your life back on track after it passes.
Filing a claim is the place to begin, and we’re here to help you jumpstart the process. Since companies have faster and newer technology than ever before, filing a hurricane damage insurance claim has never been easier. Let’s check out exactly where to start with these four easy hurricane insurance claim tips.
How to File an Insurance Claim After Hurricane
While you may be anxious to file a claim to get your life back to normal as soon as possible, there’s a very important step you need to take beforehand to make your life and your insurance company’s job a bit easier.
1. Make a List of the Damaged Property and Belongings
First thing’s first, you need to make a list of everything that has been damaged by the hurricane and what kind of damage it sustained. Grab a pen and paper, or your phone, and begin compiling your list.
It’s much easier to document your damaged personal property if you make a list of all your personal belongings way before the hurricane arrives. Doing this is an easier way to prove you actually owned the belongings. This contents list will especially come in handy if you evacuate for the hurricane and it destroys your home.
It’s important to not discard any damaged items until your insurance adjuster shows up to survey the scene. Your adjuster typically needs to see the damaged items to make an appraisal. Taking photos and videos can help speed up the home insurance claim process, as well as ensure you have a visual record of all damages.
Homeowners Insurance Hurricane Coverages: Homeowners insurance offers the most coverage for hurricane damage, protecting your home’s structure, other structures located on your property, your personal belongings for their replacement cost or actual cash value and additional living expenses if your house is damaged and you must temporarily move out while it’s being repaired or rebuilt.
Condo Insurance Hurricane Coverages: Since condo owners don’t own the building they live in, condo insurance offers coverage for the personal belongings kept inside the unit and, depending on the type of policy, appliances that are built into the condo, flooring, walls and more. It also covers additional living expenses if you’re forced to temporarily move out while it’s being repaired or rebuilt.
Renters Insurance Hurricane Coverages: Renters only own the personal belongings they keep inside their house or apartment, so, although it’s adequate coverage, renters insurance offers the least amount of coverage for hurricane damage. Your personal belongings like furniture, electronics and clothes are covered for their replacement cost or actual cash value. Plus, you can opt to include or exclude coverage for additional living expenses if you’re forced to temporarily move out due to damage.
Landlord Insurance Hurricane Coverages: Landlords have a hybrid type of coverage that share elements of all three. Depending on if they own and rent out a house or condo, landlord insurance shares the same coverage for the structure. However, since they don’t live in the property, typically only personal belongings that are kept on the property and used to maintain the home are covered.
Instead of receiving coverage for additional expenses, they may opt to enroll in coverage that provides rental reimbursement if the home is damaged and their tenants must temporarily move out.
Car Insurance Hurricane Coverages: While we’re at it, let’s shed some light on how your vehicles may be covered. If you have comprehensive coverage, one of the elements deemed to be considered full coverage, on your auto insurance policy, you’d be covered for damage to your vehicle that’s a direct result of the hurricane. So if a hurricane knocks a tree onto your vehicle, you’d be covered.
2. Contact Your Insurance Agent or File Online
Filing a hurricane damage insurance claim is much simpler than you may think. Gone are the days of walking into your insurance agent’s office to file a claim with a pen and paper. Claims can be filed quickly and easily online with your insurance company or over the phone with your dedicated agent.
But be sure to call as soon as possible to get the home insurance claim process started early because insurance companies typically receive lots of claims during hurricane season and they operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you file a hurricane claim online, there’s usually an easy-to-use form you must fill out. After submitting the claim with relevant information, you’ll be assigned a claim number immediately and be able to track your hurricane claim from start to finish entirely online.
If you call to file a hurricane claim, brief your representative to the fullest extent about everything that was damaged by the storm. If you need to stay someplace other than your home due to it being uninhabitable, inform them of your plans to make arrangements at a hotel or other location. Write down your claim number or, if your agent is unavailable, write down the name of the person you spoke to.
Please remember to be patient when going through this process. Your insurance company will likely be fielding many calls from people who are in a similar situation as you and will be extremely busy during hurricane season. Typically, claims processes are first-come, first-served. So it’s better to contact them as soon as possible to get the ball rolling.
3. Check Your Insurance Policy
It’s vital that you know what your policy covers and what it doesn’t cover well before a storm comes through. Knowing things like flood insurance’s relation to home insurance and if solar panels are included in your policy coverage, are extremely useful. The overall scope of your coverage helps you determine how much damage may be covered by your policy.
If your policy documents were damaged by the hurricane, you’ll be able to find a copy in the online portal of your insurance company or by reaching out to your dedicated agent. If you’re unable to locate these documents, your agent can provide you with them or walk you through them over the phone.
4. Know Your Hurricane Deductible
This is an important piece of information, especially if you haven’t sustained much damage from the storm. Many homeowners policies carry a standard $500 or $1,000 deductible. But, if you live in a region where hurricanes and other wind storms are common, you’ll probably have a different deductible to deal with the damage.
A windstorm, often called a hurricane deductible, is used for homeowners, condo owners and landlords. It’s a percentage-based deductible based on your home’s dwelling coverage, which is the amount your home is worth. If you’re a homeowner or landlord with a house worth $250,000 and a 2% hurricane deductible, you’ll be responsible to pay $5,000 toward your claim before your insurer steps in to pick up the rest.
That means that any qualifying damage after $5,000 may be covered. If the damage to your home is less than or just a bit over $5,000, it may not be worth filing a claim. Instead of filing a claim and risking an increase in your premiums, paying out of pocket to keep the claim off your record is the wiser idea.
The states that have enacted hurricane deductibles are Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C.
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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.