Saturday is the National Day of Action. With Hurricane Florence on the East Coast and an active hurricane season in both the Atlantic and Pacific this year, use this day to learn what to do after a storm passes. At the very least, on this National Day of Action, answer these Ten Questions About Your Homeowners Insurance to make sure you are adequately covered.
1. Document damage before cleanup. Make sure that you are documenting damage by taking photos. Include the make, model, and the serial number of damaged electronic items. These will be valuable to you when you file an insurance claim.
2. File a claim ASAP. Making an insurance claim is often time sensitive, don't put it off. Otherwise, you risk not being able to use insurance to replace items and restore your home. Look at this infographic from FEMA about how to file a flood insurance claim and this page from the Insurance Information Institute on filing a homeowners insurance claim. You can learn more about insurance on our website.
3. Apply for FEMA assistance and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. You may be able to obtain funds to aid in the recovery process. Make sure to explore all of your disaster recovery aid options.
4. Clean up after a storm quickly to avoid mold and further damage. Don’t wait too long to begin cleanup because once mold has grown, it can be harmful to your family’s health. Read more about how to clean your home to prevent mold on the Center for Disease Control website. Be sure to protect yourself during cleanup (gloves, boots, etc.). Contaminated floodwater can bring contamination into your home.
5. Avoid Fraud - Understand your insurance policy and look out for "storm chasers." After a hurricane, you may be desperate to get your home fixed, but don't let desperation let you cut corners and be a victim of fraud. You could get scammed, or your home could end up with shoddy, unpermitted work done that will cost you more to fix. Recover right; you will have to live with the repairs or your new roof for years. If you have Ordinance and Law coverage, build back to the most current building code or a higher standard like FORTIFIED Home.
Roofers and contractors ARE NOT insurance adjusters...don't let them negotiate your claim with your insurance company. Be wary of door knockers or out of town contractors. Get their card and then get bids from 4-5 contractors for the work you need. Will a company be around in six months or a year later if you need warranty work done?
Call your insurance company and work with their adjuster. Don't tell contractors what your claim check will be or deductible is. Check that contractors have a state license, business license, insurance (bond if required) and check their references. Get EVERYTHING in writing, including bids, and contracts. And be really wary of large upfront costs. Visit DontGoof.org for more information.
Don't forget, DO NOT run a generator indoors, too close to your house, or near open windows. Carbon monoxide is extremely hazardous if inhaled. Additionally, the last thing you need after a hurricane is your home to burn down from a generator related fire.