What to Do After Hurrican Harvey: 10 Steps for Your Insurance Claim
1. Take pictures or video. Nothing will preserve the extent of damage better for your hurricane claims with an insurance company. Your natural instinct is to start picking up the damage first and by the time the insurance adjustor arrives at your house, you have made it look as presentable as possible. Taking photos or videotape of the hurricane damage before you clean up preserves and establishes the true extent of damages your house suffered.
2. Don't Clean Up First. See Step number 1 above!
After video or photos of the hurricane are taken, you then should do what is necessary to protect your home from further damage.
3. Contact your insurance agent to report your claim. If you can do so before midnight August 31, 2017, then notify your agent in writing that you have damage from the hurricane. At this point, after Hurrican Harvey, your insurance company will probably have a hotline or some other contact point for you to use. Since Hurricane Harvey devastated everyone in Houston or your community, you will want to be persistent. It will be difficult to get through to someone and to get responses. Stay at it. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
4. Start calling every contractor you can find. DO IT NOW!!!! Look for contractors in nearby cities 100 to 200 miles away. After Harvey, contractors will be in extreme demand. If you wait to contact a contractor until after your insurance company responds to your claim, you will be at the back of the line. You can get an estimate BEFORE the insurance adjuster evaluates your hurricane damage claim and get in the contractor's line for work.
5. Keep track of your phone, email and other contact with your homeowner insurance company. Get a calendar and write down every time you phone and get no response. Record every time you do speak to someone and keep notes of what they tell you.
6. Start a file on all communications you get from the insurance company after the hurricane. Keep your calendar, notes and correspondence together along with your photos and videotape. Keep all of this together. It could be VERY IMPORTANT LATER!!!
7. Take photos and videotape of the repairs and reconstruction.
8. Know your insurance timeline. The insurance company has to perform certain tasks within certain dates after you report the hurricane damage. What the insurance companies count on is that most people do not know or understand the timelines involved or that they will be patient and understanding since the insurance company is having to handle so many claims at once. You can be sure that they insurance company will depend on your kindness and never return the favor. The reason insurance companies have billions and billions of dollars is not because they are nice and pay claims. The insurance companies have billions and billions of dollars because they fight over every detail. You can win that fight if you are ready for it.
9. Locate your receipts for payments of anything destroyed because the insurance company will assign a value to the item regardless of how much you actually paid for it. If you don't have a receipt, go online and determine what the current replacement cost is. The insurance company will depreciate your item based on how old it is unless you have specific endorsements otherwise, so document the cost and the condition of the item at the time IT WAS DESTROYED in Hurrican Harvey. 10. Expect no and low. The days of insurance companies sending their claims adjustors to your door with a check went away with the manufacturing jobs in this country. You should anticipate that they will deny your claim. They are not coming to help you. They are coming to limit you. And sometimes that limit is a full out "NO". Sometimes, it is just a no, not that much. You can always take whatever they offer, but being persistent and steadfast is the path to take. You wouldn't go to a car dealership and expect them to look out for your interests. Don't expect anymore from the insurance company and you will reward yourself.