Hurricanes: Are You Protected?

By Insurance.com Posted : 03/08/2007
Hurricanes can wreak tremendous damage, devastation and death on a community. If a hurricane warning is issued, homeowners can board-up their houses and try to minimize the damage. But what if a storm damages their home regardless?

The most common homeowners policy - called a homeowners-3 policy or HO-3 - covers damage caused by a hurricane except for exclusions specifically outlined in the policy. For example, damage caused by hurricane flooding is usually not covered. Since policies vary, Insurance.com suggests homeowners review their policies before a storm hits to determine what would be covered.

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For anyone whose home may be damaged by a hurricane, Insurance.com offers the following tips to help get back on their feet.

Secure the building with temporary repairs - Fix whatever is needed to make the home habitable and prevent further damage. Be careful not to invest in extensive repairs at this time, as an adjuster must appraise the damage first. Save any receipts so that your insurance company can reimburse you later.

Call your insurance agent to report the loss - Get any information you may need from your agent at this time. If the disaster is widespread, keep in mind that the agent may be very busy. Be patient.

Save receipts - If temporary living arrangements are needed, be sure to save receipts for living expenses, such as food, temporary housing costs, storage, and furniture rentals. Your insurance company should advance you the money for these costs.

Make a list of the damaged property - Try to include makes, models, and serial numbers. Take pictures of the damaged items, if possible. Organize old bills and receipts, if they are available, to establish value and age. Work from memory, if necessary. Don't throw anything away until the adjuster has a chance to inspect and appraise it.

Identify structural damage - Don't forget the garage, sheds, and pool. Look for cracks and missing shingles or roof tiles. You may want to hire a licensed engineer to identify damage you can't see. Have an electrician inspect the electrical system and a plumber review the plumbing system (most policies cover these inspections). Get bids for the repair work.

Have an adjuster appraise the damage - Your insurance agent should arrange this, and there should be no charge. Or, you can hire a public adjuster for a fee. When your adjuster comes, ask for a complete inspection and appraisal. If it can't be completed at one time, arrange for a second look. Be sure to identify all damaged areas.

Fill out the forms - Complete the "proof of loss" forms, which will be sent to you by your insurance company. Return them as soon as possible and keep copies of all forms you send back. Send copies of lists and other documents as needed to prove your losses, making sure to keep the originals.

Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.

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