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Unfortunately, hurricane season is upon us, meaning that some are or will soon be filing insurance claims for home damages. If you are in this unlucky group, it is important to know what to expect and what you can do to make the process as quick and easy as possible. To help you through the claim process, here’s a quick look at our top 5 tips.

1. Have a real understanding of what is in your policy.

If you don’t know exactly what your policy covers, it’s time to familiarize yourself with it. (This includes the fine print.) If you are confused about any aspects of the policy, be sure to contact your agent. The most important things to know include:

• How much is your deductible and how does this compare to the estimated repair costs?
• What type of water damage is covered?
• Are fallen tree branches covered?
• If your roof requires replacement, is the entire amount covered or just the depreciated value?

2. Thoroughly document your damage.

Although you may be tempted to immediately begin cleaning up your property, you will need to, first, document all of the damage. In addition to taking notes on the damage sustained, take plenty of high-quality photos. Be sure to do this before you make any type of repairs or changes, such as adding temporary boards and plastic to prevent further damage.

It’s also a good idea to have “before” photos available that show your property’s previous condition. If you do not have them, do it now before a storm strikes.

3. Take good notes.

When you call to file a claim, it is important to write down the name and department of everyone you speak to, beginning with your first call. This will allow you to reference them in the future. Also, jot down a quick summary of what you are told in case there is any confusion in the future. Being able to refer back to “Emily in Customer Service” can be very beneficial if you experience issues later in the process.

4. Be aware that an inspection will be required.

Although you may have documented the damage yourself (and have plenty of photos to that effect), your insurance company will still want to assess the damage for themselves. They may send out an adjuster, professional appraiser, or a contractor to do this. You need to be present for this inspection. Make arrangements for it to take place as soon as possible. This is crucial if you want your claim settled quickly and efficiently. If you disagree with an assessment, don’t be afraid to express your opinion or argue your case.

5. Always do your research.

Before you hire anyone or sign any type of contract, you’ll want to thoroughly review potential repair companies. Look for accreditations, reviews left online and with the Better Business Bureau, and your state’s contractor association to learn about their experience and reputation.

Also, be sure that your estimates are given in writing and include as much detail as possible.
This includes:

• What materials will be used, from where they will be sourced, and who is the manufacturer
Warranty information
• The contractor’s license and insurance information

Dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster can be stressful. Use the tips discussed above to help you make the clean-up process go as smoothly and easily as possible.