Another hurricane rolled through and here you are with a big mess on your hands to clean up!
It might be tempting to put up your sleeves and start fixing the wreckage right away— but it’s crucial to take pause. Before you start any hurricane damage repairs, be sure to read this advice.
1. Call your insurance company immediately to report your claim.
Resist the urge to make any fixes post-storm. Instead, grab your camera and snap photos of the damage across your whole property.
It’s important to reach an agreement with your insurance company before making any permanent repairs, or else you risk not getting the coverage you deserve. First, it’s important you get a clear understanding of what your insurance policy will cover so you can plan your out-of-pocket costs.
Pick up the phone and make sure to have your policy number available. Advise the insurance company of damage in the most specific, impartial terms as possible. Indicate where damage occurred without defining it as a flood or something that might not be covered by your policies. You likely have flood coverage as a SWFL resident, but it’s always safer to describe the damage without assuming the exact force to blame. It’s just broad hurricane damage until the insurance company can assess and deem otherwise.
2. Prepare a list of questions in advance that you will ask the company
After reporting the hurricane damage, be sure to ask your insurance company the following questions before hanging up, if you don’t already know the answer:
- What will my policy cover?
- When will an adjuster be onsite?
- What is my deductible?
- Am I authorized to arrange for water remediation or other repairs on my own?
- Will I need estimates for damage and if so how many?
- Does my policy cover the cost of staying in a hotel or renting other living quarters if my home is too damaged to occupy?
- How long do I have before filing my claim?
- What happens next?
- When will I get my money?
After your call, make sure that you document what you were told for future reference.
3. Do damage control.
In most cases, especially after a big storm caused widespread damage across your area, an insurance adjuster will not be available immediately. That means it’s up to you to make temporary fixes, that’ll hold you over until help is on the way. For example, if you have a broken window, board or cover it up to prevent entry or further damage into your home or business.
4. Hire a licensed repairman.
In some cases, doing damage control might mean calling a water remediation and restoration company or a company that repairs broken doors and windows.
If you need work done, call companies you know or those with a verifiable address and phone number. Disasters always bring out contractors that "happen to be in the neighborhood" to board up damaged windows, make temporary repairs, or arrange to make more extensive repairs in your home. Many of these people are unlicensed and do not have your best interests in mind.
When an adjuster comes, verify that he is really from the company he claims to represent or that he is a licensed public adjuster authorized to do the work on behalf of the company.
5. Follow this advice if your space isn’t livable.
If the storm damage is so severe that you need temporary living arrangements, verify with your insurance company that you have additional living expenses coverage in your policy. Then, get a clear understanding as to when you will have the money in hand. You may have to pay out-of-pocket to stay at a hotel or other location and submit receipts later.
If you must live off the premises due to damage to your home or danger in the area, make sure to keep your insurance company in the loop as to how to contact you. Try to arrange for someone to look after your home or plan to check it yourself periodically until your claim is settled. If you live out of state, you may already have arrangements with a management company or friend to take care of this, but still plan to stay in touch.
Be Better Prepared the Next Storm
Are you new to living in Florida or a first-time homeowner in the Sunshine State? Our coastal region is frequently hit with tropical storms and hurricanes, so it’s smart to always be prepared.
Download our free Hurricane Guide for storm prep tips, including what to protect your windows, inside your home, and more.
Explore our Repair Services here for help in SWFL fixing glass, screens, shutters, doors, and more.