May 22, 2012
How to file an insurance claim
Try to call your insurance agent immediately.
Begin making temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
Save all receipts. Do not attempt to make permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster has inspected the home.
Most homeowner-insurance policies provide for removal of trees or branches that have fallen on your home.
If your home is uninhabitable or you move somewhere else temporarily, let your insurer know where you can be reached.
Don't assume that adjusters will know what street they are on; street signs may have blown away. Industry officials say spray-painting important information on homes after a hurricane is effective. Your name and correct address should be sufficient for an adjuster to match you and your policy. Don't include your policy number; someone else may take advantage of that. Insurers usually send adjusters to the worst-hit homes first.
Confused about your policy?
Get moving. With hurricane season here, homeowners need to find out what's covered and what's not. Experts say you should take a thorough look at your policy, and if you have any questions, call your insurance agent. It's no fun poring through fine print, but that's the only way to find out, for example, whether you'd have to replace damaged carpet yourself.
Do your homework to make sure you can weather a storm financially.
Here are phone numbers, some of which are activated only after a storm:
•Florida Department of Financial Services, 1-800-342-2762, or its Disaster Assistance Insurance Helpline, 1-800-227-8676
•Citizens Property Insurance: 1-866-411-2742
•Chartis, formerly AIG: 1-800-242-2418
The Hartford: 1-800-243-5860 or 877-805-9918 (AARP)
•Liberty Mutual: 1-800-225-2467
•State Farm: 1-800-732-5246
•Travelers of Florida: 1-800-252-4633 or 1-800-505-0193 for flooding
•United Property & Casualty: 1-800-861-4370
•Universal North America: 1-888-225-9441
•Universal Property & Casualty: 1-800-218-3206
No time to waste: Generally, insurance policies go into effect 30 days after they're purchased.
Flood coverage: Don't assume you have it. Even though a hurricane or tropical storm may cause flooding, the damage can only be covered by a flood policy.
Deductibles: They're often higher for hurricane damage.
After a storm: Homeowners who file claims should ask their adjusters for several damage estimates.
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