Here are 7 tips to help homeowners with their claims process:
1. MAINTAIN AN INVENTORY OF HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Receiving a fair payout for damage to one's home and belongings begins by making a list of what you own, particularly the more expensive items, including what they cost, even if it's only an estimate.
Taking photos or even shooting video while you describe the items and how much you paid for them, works too. And, if possible, take digital photos and video, which you can store online on websites like Flickr and Picasa. That way, you can access them in the event your computer is damaged.
2. UNDERSTAND SCOPE OF YOUR COVERAGE
Knowing what your insurance policy covers and what it doesn't is essential to getting through the claims process quicker.
You don't want to have to rely only on what claims adjusters tell you, especially as they go through the process of evaluating how much of a payout you're going to get.
3. QUICKLY DOCUMENT DAMAGE AND MAKE ONLY TEMPORARY REPAIRS
After the storm, once it's safe to move about, it's important to take photos of the damage right away. Comparing these photos to the ones taken before the storm can be used to establish the value of items that are damaged or destroyed.
If holes have been torn in your roof or windows are broken, cover them quickly to prevent further damage, but don't make any permanent repairs. But take photographs or videos of the damage before you start working.
And don't throw out damaged furniture or other expensive items until an adjuster has seen them.
4. CONTACT YOUR INSURER RIGHT AWAY
Homeowners should call their insurer quickly and get the claims process rolling, regardless of how much damage their home has sustained.
You can contact your insurance agent for information on how to file a claim. Or, if the agent can't be reached, contact the company directly via the Internet or phone.
Even if you've been evacuated and have yet to return to your home, but it's in an area that may be flooded or known to have been damaged in the storm, call your insurer and tell them, Salvatore says.
Doing so can help establish that you have to spend time in a hotel, something you may be able to get reimbursed for later.
Also, note the name and number of everyone you speak with during the claims process. That can help clear up any confusion that may arise along the way.
5. BE PREPARED TO NEGOTIATE
Once insurance adjusters look over the damage, they will determine the size of your payout.
But if that figure seems too low, there are ways to voice your disagreement and try to work out a better settlement.
You'll want to ask the adjuster to show you the contract language and justify the proposed amount.
If you're still dissatisfied, get a second or even third opinion on the cost of repairs from independent contractors. You can use that to argue for a bigger payout.
Ideally you can work it out with the adjuster, but if not, you can try to make your case with someone at the company's regional or national office.
They are experts on the insurance claims process and can assess the damage to a home and help build the case on behalf of the homeowner.
6. WATCH OUT FOR SCAM ARTISTS
Scam artists will tell homeowners things like they will not have to pay their deductible. Stay away from the scumbags.
7. Let RoofersNorthCarolina.com help you.