After a disaster, anyone with damage to their property may feel initially helpless and lost. Where to start? And where to begin picking up the pieces? For large scale disasters that leave roads closed, cities without power, and an inability for insurance adjusters to visit the insured properties immediately, most often, their will be “stations” set up in and around town with different mobile centers to contact insurance companies. The first call you want to make after the dust settles, is to your insurance agent. In most situations, online services may be interrupted in disaster areas and making claims through the online department can take an extended length of time to get the ball rolling. Calling your agent gets an actual person on the line who can answer any questions you may have, which is likely to be a ton.
Information to have
First rule, as soon as you sign a policy, make your agent’s name and phone number a priority. Have it in your phone, or memorized, if possible. Having this information leaves you with less hurdles in the event of a disaster. If possible, have your policy number available, although your agent will be able to access that information. Any initial questions you may have, feel free to ask, that is what your agent is there for.
Questions to ask
If you do not have access to your policy, ask how you can get a copy sent to you. Also, ask what is covered under your policy, information on your deductible, and a timeline on a visit from an adjuster. Be sure to give your agent a list of claims. You may have auto, homeowner’s, flood, etc, that will all need to be handled in separate claims. Be sure to ask about any policies regarding getting estimates from contractors and what next steps you can take to be proactive in getting your losses back. The quicker you are “back to normal”, the better.
If you haven’t done so already, your agent will need a full list of damages and valuables that have been destroyed. If you have photos of damage in the “before” state, this will help speed up the claim process.
Designating a “message person” outside the disaster zone
After the initial call, keep in touch with your agent. Feel free to call and ask about the process, questions you may have, and what is covered. If your living expenses are covered, you will have required forms to fill out for reimbursement, which you agent can help you with. If you are using a public disaster communication center, you may want to designate an outside source to gather further information for you in the likely event that you are not readily available. A friend or relative, outside the damaged area, may be authorized to take messages and relay information until your insurance adjuster gets to the scene. Remember, your agent is there to help you through this difficult time!