Insurance Claims After a Hurricane or Large Storm

Insurance Claims After a Hurricane or Large StormThis week Hurricane Dorian barely missed making landfall.  However, storms of this magnitude leave substantial property damage in their wake.  Residents in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina will likely need to seek assistance and make claims under their insurance policies in order to remedy damage from the storm. Several types of insurance policies may be applicable after a large storm, including, but not limited to homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, renter’s insurance, first party property insurance, builders risk insurance and auto insurance. Below is a checklist of first steps to consider if you, your condo association, or your corporation suffered damage due to a storm. 

Checklist: How To Make an Insurance Claim

Submit Claim in Writing. As soon as possible, provide a written notice of claim to your insurer according to the notice provision of your policy. Keep a copy for your records. If you don’t have a copy of your policy, call the insurance company, ask them how to submit your claim, and request a copy of your policy.

Document Receipt of Claim in Writing. Usually, the insurance company, through an adjuster or third-party claim administrator, will acknowledge receipt of your claim within 48 hours. If you do not receive written confirmation from the insurance company within the first 72 hours, call the insurance company.  If this fails, call your broker. Written acknowledgment of your claim by the insurance company is a crucial element in properly presenting your claim under the insurance policy. 

Document the Loss.  This seems intuitive, but there is no harm in being overly diligent in your documentation.  Photograph everything. If you fail to do this after a storm, it is difficult to recreate later.  And if you don’t have the photographic evidence, you give the insurance company an opportunity to weave their own story. 

Know Your Insurance Policy.  Read your insurance policy. Insurance policies are contracts, and like most contracts, insurance policies have conditions that must be met before an insurance company will pay a claim. Two common conditions are the notice provision, which mandates that you notify the insurance company promptly after a loss, and the cooperation clause, which requires an insured to cooperate with the insurance company during the claim process. Cooperation can include completing a proof of loss form, allowing the insurance company to inspect the property after a loss, and providing documentation related to the loss.

Consider Retaining a Lawyer. Insurance companies make the claims process difficult.  The insurance company has a bona fide interest in delaying payment, or in some instances, outright denying your claim. The claims process is time intensive, and the jargon can seem foreign.  Strategic presentation of the claims early in the process is the best way to resolve a claim. If the insurer denies your claim, or presents a response to your claim that doesn’t make sense, legal representation is a logical next step. To discuss a claim or for additional information, contact Austin Bersinger at (404) 965-3692.