Getting back on your feet after a natural disaster isn’t an easy process. Dealing with the aftermath is sure to confuse and scare anyone. Even before a natural disaster strikes, you can prepare for its consequences. There are various ways to receive alerts about oncoming natural disasters, including Wireless Emergency Alerts put out by FEMA. These alerts are automatically distributed by cell phone carriers and broadcasters of both television and radio. Pay attention to these alerts when they come. You should follow any government mandates in the face of a natural disaster, including evacuating. Below you will learn more about what to do after a natural disaster has affected you or your property.
In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, you should first check yourself and your loved ones for any injuries. If they are minor, undertake first aid. If there are any severe injuries, you should seek professional medical assistance. Be sure to eat and drink well. You should inspect your home or property before entering for safety. If you think there are any dangerous possibilities, contact a building inspector. If there is still water in your home, you smell gas, or your property was damaged by fire, you should not enter it. Once you may enter your home, you should begin cataloging damages. Take pictures of damage, create lists of lost property and be sure to keep receipts for any repairs done. Do not throw away any damaged belongings — your insurance company will want to see them. Listen to local radio to hear if any organizations will be offering food, shelter or first aid near you. You should also be prepared for the psychological effects of a natural disaster, especially in children and the elderly. If you would like to help others, considering donating your time, money or needed items toe the affected community.
After a natural disaster, the thought of making an insurance claim can seem overwhelming. However, handling your claim is easy with a little help. You should call your insurance agent as soon as possible to establish your need for a claim. Calling your insurance may also result in immediate help, including pumping floodwaters or removing dangerous debris. Insurance agents suggest calling and sending a physical letter detailing your losses. While you are waiting for further action from the insurance company, you should begin accumulating the things you will need to support your claim.
You should start compiling support of your natural disaster claim as soon as possible. When you reenter your home, take pictures of any damage. You should also begin a list of objects that have been lost or destroyed during this time. Check that any appliances you own are still working. You should also check the roof and foundation for any damage, as well as the pipes, furnace and central. Insurance agents suggest taking steps to stop further damage, like covering broken windows. Do not fix the damage without an adjuster seeing it, but you should try to ensure that further damage isn’t caused by neglect. If you have receipts or photos of lost property, try to find them. Be certain that you keep copies of everything you give to your insurance company.
An adjuster may visit your home to prepare a damage report. You should show this adjuster the evidence you have accumulated and any receipts you have from repairs or losses. The adjuster should give you a copy of their damage report as well as their name and contact number. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. You may also hire a public adjuster to aid you. Public adjusters typically take a percentage of your claim, so it is in their interest to ensure that you receive as much money as possible.
If your insurance company does not send an adjuster, they will send you a claims form, also called proof of loss. Fill out the form to your best ability and call your company if anything is confusing or unclear. Talk to your company before beginning any repairs.
After you have completed your proof of loss forms or been visited by an adjuster, you should send your proofs to your insurance company. You should complete this documentation within 60 days of the natural disaster. They will then process your claim and decide how much money is needed for compensation.
Additional damage may be found during the repair process. If this is the cause, you should contact your insurance agent as soon as the new damage is discovered. Your agent may decide to send another adjuster out to reinspect the damage for an adjusted payment. They may also be able to come to an agreement with the contractor while you are on the phone.
If you believe that your insurance company is not offering sufficient funds for repair, you have options. First, you should talk to your insurance agent about your issues with the payment. You can ask why you received the amount you did, hopefully receiving a breakdown of expenses they are choosing to cover. Using the documents you kept copies of, tell your agent why you believe you deserve more money from your insurance claim.
If your agent doesn’t agree with your claims, you may submit a written request for an appraisal. This is a request that both you and the insurance company finds one objective person apiece to appraise the claim and decide what the appropriate amount of money for your claim is. This is a typically informal process, not requiring a court or interrogations. If these two cannot agree, they submit their decision to an umpire. Two out of three of these opinions are enough to choose a new payment method.
If your claim is entirely rejected, you can appeal the claim. If you believe you were underpaid, you can request an appraisal. You should first talk to your adjuster, your adjuster’s supervisor and the insurance company’s claim representative. If none of these people are able to help you satisfactorily, you may then appeal directly to FEMA. You should write a letter to FEMA including your policy number, the policyholder’s name, contact information, why you believe your claim is unfair, information about your communication with your insurance company and all the documentation you gave to your insurance company originally. A FEMA representative may come to re-inspect your home at this time. They will provide you with a decision in writing within 90 days of submitting the appeal to FEMA.
If you choose to appeal to FEMA for an appraisal, you may not file a lawsuit against your insurer. You can, however, again ask them for an appraisal, but it is unlikely to go through. Appealing your claim through FEMA should be a last resort for a claim that you truly believe is being misrepresented by your insurance company.