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After your property is damaged, what next?

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Most Floridians know what to do before a hurricane, but too few know what to do after a hurricane or tropical storm damages their property. This guide will help consumers understand the insurance claims process. 

Hurricane411After a hurricane

  • Contact your independent insurance agent or insurance company as quickly as possible to report your losses. He or she will assign the loss immediately to a qualified adjuster, who will call you as soon as possible. It takes time to process a large number of claims after a disaster, so please be patient. If yours is a serious case, tell your agent. Insurance companies schedule adjusters; the most serious losses receive priority treatment.
  • Assess your situation and put safety first. Don’t proceed until you are sure a room or house is safe to enter. If you must relocate temporarily, give your agent your temporary address.
  • Once your safety is secured, make any repairs necessary to prevent further property damage. These might include covering breaks in roofs, walls, or windows with plywood, canvas, or other waterproof material. Do not have permanent repairs made without first consulting your agent or meeting with the adjuster; unauthorized repairs may not be reimbursed.
  • Keep all receipts for expenditures you’ve made to temporarily repair damage or to estimate the extent of damage. 

Make a list and get estimates  

  • Use your pre-disaster home inventory (you have one, right?) to help prepare a detailed accounting of all damaged or destroyed personal property for the adjuster. (Be sure to keep a copy.) Your list should be as complete as possible and include descriptions (with quantities) of items damaged or destroyed, date of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase, and estimated replacement cost.
  • Collect cancelled checks, invoices, appraisals, or other papers that might assist the adjuster in determining the value of the destroyed property.
  • Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster when he or she arrives. The estimate should be detailed and specific, and include the extent of the work and a breakdown of repair and replacement costs. Do not give the contractor the go-ahead to begin repairs until you have reviewed the damage with the adjuster.
  • Keep a written record of everyone you talk to about your insurance claim, including the date of the conversation and a summary of what was said.
  • Take photos or video of the damage to help with the presentation of your claim and assist the adjuster in his evaluation.
  • Even if home or business furnishings and other items look like “total losses,” do not get rid of them until after they have been examined by an adjuster. 

Mitigate further damage  

  • Clean wooden furniture and floors to avoid further damage. Avoid rubbing in abrasives such as ash, plaster, or wallboard particles that might have fallen on the furniture. Don’t leave wood furniture in the sun or it will warp. Scrub woodwork and floors with a stiff brush.
  • Draperies, linens, and clothing should be laundered. Upholstered furniture should be examined. You may be able to mitigate further damage by cleaning and drying it; if you plan to have this done by an upholsterer or dry cleaner, talk to your agent first to determine if this can or should be done before or after the adjuster arrives.
  • Metal objects, such as guns, drapery rods, and electric motors in home appliances, should be dried and rubbed, or sprayed with oil to prevent corrosion. Radios, TVs, and other electronic systems should also be dried out, but not oiled.
  • If your car has been damaged or submerged in a flood, move it to high ground and let it dry out. Do not attempt to start or operate it until it is thoroughly dry.

Information provided by the Florida Association of Insurance Agents as a public service.

This Week in Insurance: August 29–Sept. 2, 2016

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

  • Florida Workers’ Compensation JUA, Rates & Forms Committee teleconference, 2:00 p.m. To participate in the call, contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 

This Week in Insurance: August 22–26, 2016

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This Week in Insurance: August 15–19, 2016

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

  • Florida Workers’ Compensation JUA, Reinsurance Committee teleconference, 11:00 a.m. To participate, contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 

This Week in Insurance: August 8–12, 2016

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

  • Florida Workers’ Compensation JUA. To participate in the teleconference meeting, contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

This Week in Insurance: August 1–5, 2016

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016