Q: Despite our preparations, Hurricane Ian’s storm bands damaged our home. Fortunately, the damage was relatively minor. What should we do now? – John
A: Your priority should always be staying safe during and after a storm or other disaster. Watch out for deep puddles, hanging power lines, and other hazards. If you have to use a generator, follow the safety guidelines to avoid injury. Property can be replaced — people cannot.
After you clear up or isolate dangerous conditions, your next steps will be much like dealing with most legal issues.
First, take lots of pictures of the damage. Gather any pictures of your home from before the storm so there is something to show that the storm caused the damage. Start a written journal of everything you do and everyone you speak with.
Your next step is to call your insurance company to start making a claim.
Many insurers allow you to start the process online, but others have you call them. Be prepared for long hold times and have patience.
Of course, make a complete journal of every step you take. You can use this time to review your insurance policy and coverage.
If you have flood insurance, you must make a separate claim. Once you start the claim, submit all requested information as quickly as possible. After you have done your part, continue to follow up to ensure the process is moving forward.
Because of the large amount they are likely receiving, it may take some time for your insurance company to react to your claim. During this time, you must protect your home from further damage.
Board broken windows, tarp roof holes and take whatever immediate action is necessary to prevent your home’s condition from worsening.
Save your receipts for all supplies and repairs so you can get reimbursed later.
Do your research when hiring contractors—finding someone local with a long track record is best whenever possible.
Stay in communication with your insurer throughout the process, remembering to be patient and documenting everything in case something goes wrong.