Damage to your property caused by a storm or hurricane can leave your life suddenly upended. Being left to pick up the pieces can be overwhelming, stressful, and scary, especially when you’re dealing with the loss of your personal belongings and trying to find a safe, temporary live-in area for you and your family.
At The Chopin Law Firm, our hurricane damage insurance claims attorneys are committed to helping our neighbors and local community members recover from the recent devastation left behind this hurricane season.
With that said, we are here to provide you with the information you need to successfully obtain loss reimbursement through your insurance policies so you can focus on rebuilding your home and life.
ASSESS THE DAMAGE TO YOUR PROPERTY
Once it is safe to return to your property or go outside, you should begin evaluating the damages to the exterior of your home. Photo and video evidence is key when showing what damage is present and claiming these damages on your insurance claim. If possible, try to get a good look at the roof in order to see if there is anything that could cause interior harm to your home.
Common Types of Property Damage Caused by Hurricanes:
- Roof Devastation: Hurricanes can cause severe damage to roofs, including torn shingles, sheathing, or complete roof removal, regardless of the structure’s age or condition.
- Interior Destruction: Strong storms can result in doors and windows being torn off or broken, leading to water, wind, and rain damage to the property’s interior, including furniture, electronics, and important documents.
- Structure and Foundation Cracks: Powerful wind gusts can cause a home to shift, resulting in cracks in the structure or foundation, rendering the property unsafe and uninhabitable until repairs are made.
- Equipment Ruin: Heating and air conditioning units, pool equipment, appliances, and generators often suffer damage during hurricanes, with water-damaged equipment requiring complete replacement.
- Utility Disruption: Hurricanes can cause significant inconvenience as essential infrastructures like power lines, internet connections, water systems, and power grids are frequently damaged, leading to lengthy repair periods.
Regardless of the extent or the visibility of the damage, you should document everything! The more photos and videos you take, the better. Don’t throw anything away, even if it looks beyond repair. If you believe there to be damage that is not able to be captured on a camera or video recorder, document it by taking detailed notes of what you notice around you.
CONTACT YOUR HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE COMPANY
Most insurance companies require you to report any loss or damage in a prompt and timely manner. As soon as the imminent danger passes, you will want to contact your homeowner’s insurance company to begin the claims process.
Every insurance policy is unique, and there are various types of coverages that you may be able to utilize for hurricane-related property damage. Keep in mind, however, that the insurance adjuster that you speak to is not on your side and is ultimately part of a profit-making business.
While this person may seem friendly, anything you say to them can be used against you to deny your claim. Sometimes, even the way you word something on your claim can lead to a denial. For instance, your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover storm damage but not that caused by flooding. If you inadvertently, however, use the term “flooding” instead of “storm,” the insurance carrier may attempt to deny your claim.
CREATE A DOCUMENTATION FILE
Much of the proof that you need to successfully obtain reimbursement for your property damage can be lost if you don’t act fast. While it may take months for the insurance company to process your paperwork, the condition of your property can change before this process is complete, so you want to be sure you have evidence that is fresh.
It’s a good idea to create a documentation folder, either a physical or electronic one, that you can use to store all your documents and supporting evidence. If you choose to keep a physical file, make sure that you put all the paperwork in a gallon-size ziplock bag to keep it protected from water damage.
For those using an electronic form of documentation, you can try a free home inventory app that is downloadable on most smartphones; here are a few to check out:
- Binary Formations
- BluePlum Home Inventory
- Nest Egg Inventory
- BluePlum Home Inventory
If you have any repairs done to your home or living costs that you paid for out-of-pocket, make sure to keep these in the file.
SPEAK WITH A PROPERTY DAMAGE INSURANCE CLAIMS ATTORNEY
Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced property damage insurance claims attorney in your area who has experience negotiating with insurance companies for damages specific to hurricanes. At The Chopin Law Firm, we understand that damage to your belongings is something that can be both financially and emotionally devastating.
Our legal team is dedicated to helping you and all property owners across New Orleans and the surrounding areas obtain the reimbursement they need to make their homes whole again after a major natural disaster.
Securing Your Essential Documents: Safeguarding Your Recovery Needs
As you prepare for the potential impact of a hurricane, it is crucial to prioritize the safeguarding of critical documents that will be vital for initiating your recovery process. Take proactive steps now to ensure the protection of these essential records. To assist you in this endeavor, FEMA recommends downloading the comprehensive guide, “Be Smart, Protect Your Critical Documents and Valuables,” which provides a helpful checklist. Store your important papers in a secure and durable fireproof and waterproof box, offering added peace of mind. If you store documents electronically, remember to keep a backup drive in the same secure box. By having your legal, financial, and medical documents readily available once the immediate danger has passed, you will be better positioned to receive necessary assistance and effectively collaborate with your insurance company.