The Insurance Claims Process, After a Disaster

fire fighters standing in front of a business with heavy fire damage

Experiencing a fire or flood is traumatic. You might be simply trying to secure shelter, clothing, and food for your family. After immediate needs are taken care of, it's time to restore your home and that means talking to the insurance company. While insurers handle insurance claims everyday, most people will need to make an insurance claim a few times at most in their lives.

The Basic Insurance Claims Process, a.k.a What the Insurer Does

1. The insurance company is called.
2. They send a claims adjuster out to assess the damage.
3. The claims adjuster determines the amount of the loss and passes this to the insurance company.
4. The insurance company’s adjuster will adjust a claim for you.
5. It is up to the policy holder if the adjusted claim is sufficient.

What Should You Do?

1. Contact your insurer immediately. Find out how quickly the adjuster can come to view the damage.
2. If you have water or smoke damage, call a remediation company right away. They’ll need to begin drying out the structure and performing smoke remediation to help protect your home from further damage.  
3. Before the remediation company arrives, take photos of the damage right away, before making any repairs. If you have flooding or water damage, take pictures documenting the standing water. Secure any immediate holes with plywood to protect you property from theft.
4. Do not throw anything away yet. The adjuster will need to see all damaged items.
5. Make sure you thoroughly understand your insurance policy. You probably purchased the policy a long time ago, and now is the time to make sure you understand the limitations and your obligations.

Safeguards for Future Claims

Before a claim, make your life easier with these 2 steps:

1. Create an inventory of household items. This does not have to be exhaustive. Start by going to the center each room and taking pictures of each wall. This will document your furnishings. Open cupboards, closets and drawers and take pictures. Don’t forget the garage, basement, or attic, especially if you have valuable tools, sporting goods, or antiques. If you have valuable music equipment, jewelry, art. Wine, or other items, photograph these items individually and consider getting a professional appraisal on these items. Upload your photographs to a cloud storage location like Dropbox, Flickr, or Google Drive. Save receipts whenever possible, especially on big ticket items. 
2. Choose a reputable insurer. Look at reviews and reports on different companies. While everyone hopes that they will never need to use their homeowner's insurance, it is better to be able to use it when you need it, rather than to pay money to an insurance company that will leave you high and dry when trouble comes.

While suffering damage to your home is never going to be pleasant, having a reputable insurance company, claims adjustor, and damage restoration company on your team will make the process much more manageable. Being knowledgeable about the insurance claims process and damage restoration is key to getting your home and life back on track as painlessly as possible

Superior Cleaning & Coit Cleaning and Restoration in Woodinville, WA holds a Construction Contractor, General license (SUPERI 973KR).

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