Obtaining What You Are Owed on a Storm-Damage Claim
Recovering from property damage can be a long, stressful, and expensive process. To make matters worse, insurance companies often act in bad-faith and underestimate the amount that they owe you, fail to fully disclose benefits or coverage, fail to properly investigate your claim, delay paying your claim, or deny your claim. Being prepared for disasters and taking the right steps can help you obtain a fair settlement.
What Should I Do?
You must be prepared. At Ward & Glass, LLP, we want to help you understand your responsibilities, avoid further damage, and ensure your insurer pays you what they owe.
You paid your premiums, and you deserve a good-faith response from your insurance company when you experience a loss.
Steps to take after a storm include the following:
1. Gather Information Immediately
Right after the storm, make note of the day and time when the storm occurred. This is important because the insurance company will want to make sure that it coincides with reports from local weather and public safety authorities.
You will need to take photos of:
- Outside of your home
- Closeup of any hailstones next to a ruler or measuring tape
- Obvious storm damage—such as torn or missing shingles or broken windows
- Any leaks in the attic or water spots or damage to your ceiling
It is also important to take photos before a storm occurs to show the state of your home and personal property before storm damage.
2. Secure Your Home
Be sure to secure your home after a storm to avoid further loss. Doing everything you can to secure your home (and documenting this with pictures) helps you make sure that your insurance company cannot blame you for any part of the loss.
- Turn off gas, water, and electricity.
- Hire a professional to tarp damaged roofs and document the expenses.
- Keep people out by using a simple, temporary barrier around the perimeter of your property such as yellow caution tape.
- Avoid vandalism or looting by boarding up windows and doors and contacting your local police to request additional neighborhood patrolling.
- Check up on your property regularly to ensure that it has not been further damaged, vandalized, or burglarized. Document any changes.
- Keep personal property safe by securing valuables; consider temporarily placing items in storage.
You may want to find a qualified, experienced contractor to assist you in securing your home and estimate repairs. An experienced contractor may be able to help you navigate the claims process.
3. Insurance Inspection
Call your insurance company.
Before you make the call:
- Find your homeowners insurance policy
- Know your insurance policy number and your deductible
- Organize the facts that you have collected including date/time of the storm, size of hailstones, and price given in estimate
When you make the call, you will be given a claim number, make a note of that number. You will also be assigned a claims adjustor for your repairs.
Your insurance adjustor will give you a call to schedule a time when they will do the inspection. Make sure to ask them if they would like to see the photos of the damage. You may want to have any contractors you have retained attend the inspection. This way, your contractor can explain the extent of the damage and their findings during the adjustor’s assessment.
4. Document Living Expenses
Document your living expenses in the days, weeks, or months following a disaster to record any abnormal or excessive costs—such as hotels, food, or gas—made necessary by property damage. This is important, as your policy may cover additional living expenses.
Obtain a Fair Settlement
When you have filed a claim with your insurance company for property damage, it is important that you are careful to make sure they pay what is owed. Insurance companies are for-profit ventures, so they want to pay as little as possible. Preparation, organization, and attention to detail help you make sure the insurance company pays what they owe.
To obtain a fair settlement:
- Prove your loss. Document any damage to your property through before-and-after pictures.
- Obtain estimates. Do your research and find the best companies for repair work that will give you great value and high quality.
- Define the scope of work. Be thorough in defining the full scope of work to repair your property.
- Negotiate settlement offers. Do not automatically accept the initial offer you receive. Insurance companies regularly low-ball their policyholders. Make sure your insurance company pays you what they owe.
Get Representation from a Norman Bad-faith Attorney
Even when you do everything right, insurance companies may still take advantage of you. The most important step to take following property damage is to hire a Norman insurance bad-faith lawyer. Ward & Glass, LLP, has been holding insurers accountable since 1998. Your recovery is our top priority, and we only get paid if we obtain a recovery for our clients.