Managing the Claims Process:
Rebuilding after a loss can be long and laborious, but before you can even begin rebuilding, you have to navigate the insurance claims process. For many consumers, this is a confusing and stressful time. In the wake of a natural disaster, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers this overview of what consumers will need and can expect when filing a claim after a disaster. The NAIC also has information on how to prepare before a storm hits and special considerations for flood insurance.
Immediately Following the Disaster
Once you have thoroughly documented the damage, it is your responsibility to take reasonable steps to avoid further harm to your home or belongings. Make temporary repairs, such as covering a hole in your roof, or arrange for a qualified professional to do so. Your insurance company will typically reimburse the cost of these repairs as part of your claim, assuming the loss was because of a covered cause of loss. Your company may also reimburse you if you need to find temporary lodging or store your possessions, so keep all of your receipts.
Starting Your Claim
When reporting your losses, have your insurance information, current contact information and home inventory handy. If you do not have a home inventory, begin making a list of items, going room by room, and include as much detail as possible. Also, if your car sustained damage while in your garage/carport, it is covered by your auto insurance, not homeowners. You will need to file a claim with both companies if your auto and homeowners policy are through different providers.
The Claims Process
Once the adjuster has completed their assessment, they will provide documentation of the loss to your insurance company to determine your claims settlement. When it comes to paying your claim, you may receive more than one check. The first check will likely be an emergency advance. Any further payments for the contents of your home and other personal property will be made to you. However, if there is a mortgage on your home, the payment for structural damage may be payable to you and your mortgage lender. Lenders may put that money into an escrow account and pay for repairs as the work is completed.
When choosing a contractor to make repairs, check licensing and references before hiring, as scammers may try to take advantage of the chaos and confusion following a disaster. Always insist on a written estimate before authorizing any repairs, and do not sign any contracts before an adjuster has surveyed the damage. In most cases, the adjuster may want to see the estimate before you begin making repairs. Do not pay a contractor the full amount upfront or sign over your insurance settlement payment. A contractor should expect to be paid a portion when the contract is signed and the remainder once the work is completed.
|About the NAIC|
|The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review, and coordinate their regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally. NAIC members, together with the central resources of the NAIC, form the national system of state-based insurance regulation in the U.S. For consumer
information, visit insureUonline.org.
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