ealing with natural disasters can be overwhelming as they hit so suddenly that you are confused about what is happening and how to deal with it. With the property damage and loss of lives, you might wonder how to recover from the impact of a severe disaster. It's instances like these that having insurance really pays off. Filing a claim to your insurance company can help you get compensated against the losses and damages incurred from the disaster so that you can rise from the rubble. But, it can be a little complicated, and you might wonder what to do and where to start.
Don't worry; this article will assist you in understanding how to file a claim after a natural disaster, when to do so, and which insurance plans provide the coverage. So, make sure to read till the end.
When Should You File an Insurance Claim?
After a natural disaster, most people are inclined to submit an insurance claim right away. Even though it's crucial to submit a claim as soon as possible, you should first determine if it is worthy and valid. You should file the claim in the following circumstances:
When Your Claim Is Valid
The first thing to know before filing a claim is to know if the insurance company will cover you or not. Check your policy to see whether the claim is covered, as most policies often exclude coverage for damage caused by natural disasters. If you are confused, verify coverage with your insurance agent and company before submitting a claim.
When You Have Incurred Severe Loss
If the damage is minor, it's advisable not to file a claim. This is because submitting a claim for a little loss might have far-reaching effects that surpass whatever compensation you get from the company. Once you submit a claim, your insurance company will see you as a high-risk client. This is because they assume that policyholders who have already filed a claim are more likely to file another one in the future. Consequently, you can see a rise in your insurance rates and premiums. Therefore, if the damage is minor, it is preferable to pay for it out of pocket rather than submitting a claim.
When the Loss Is More Than Your Deductibles
Deductibles are the amount you agree to pay out of pocket for your loss, and the insurance company pays the remaining balance. Don't report losses that are less than your deductible amount. Likewise, if the loss is slightly more than the deductible, it's not worth filing a claim. For instance, if your loss is $1100 and your deductible is $1000. The insurance company will only pay you $100. Although you would get $100 immediately, the impact on your premium would be far more significant than the amount you would receive.
But one exception is water damage. That's because even if it doesn't seem to be much at first glance, it might be a costly mess lurking in your walls or ceiling.
What to Do After a Natural Disaster?
Ensure You and Your Loved One's Safety
After being hit by a natural disaster, ensuring you and your loved ones are safe is very important. Take appropriate action, including seeking safety, notifying emergency services such as the fire department and ambulances, and switching off utilities like gas and electricity. It's understandable that after being hit by a disaster, you won't know what to do and how to react. It's okay, take a long breath and try to stay calm. At this time, your health and safety are the main priorities.
Evaluate and Document the Damage
Step back and evaluate the whole situation once the disaster is under control. Inspecting the damage and keeping detailed records for the insurance claim is crucial. Use the situation as a crime scene and take photos without touching anything. Take pictures from different angles, including close-ups. Focus on its brand and model numbers. But, if your house has been completely damaged and you cannot get into the property, you can get drone footage to evaluate the damage.
Next, document the extent of the damage, along with its estimated value, original purchase date, and damage type. This will help you know how severe the damage is and the amount of claim you need to make to your insurance company.
Notify Your Insurance Company
After assessing and documenting the damage, notify your insurance company immediately that your house and property were severely damaged. Contact your insurer and inquire as to whether or not you qualify to make a claim. Inquire how long it will be until an inspector shows up and what you shall do next.
Since the damage is extensive, you will likely contact more than one insurer after a natural disaster. For instance:
- If your home is damaged in the disaster, you will need to claim your homeowner's insurance.
- If your car is damaged, you will need to claim your auto insurance.
- If someone gets hurt, you must file a claim on health insurance.
- You will need to claim your business insurance if your business property is damaged.
Make Essential Repairs
Usually, insurance companies allow making temporary repairs to prevent further damage. But, it's crucial to ask the company beforehand to make any repairs or fixes. Also, make sure you have the before photos to claim them later. These repairs may include but are not limited to:
- Putting a tarp over the roof
- Boarding up broken windows or doors
- Fixing electrical wiring
- Removing flood water
- Fencing the walls
Also, don't throw away the damaged goods before the claim adjuster visits. If goods need to be disposed of, inform your insurer about them and take photos before disposing of them.
Track Your Receipts
If your house is unlivable, your homeowner's insurance may pay for the living expenses, such as a hotel room and food. So, ensure you have all the receipts to file a claim later. Also, keep receipts from emergency repairs so that you can reimburse the amount later on. Additionally, if you have receipts of the purchase of the goods damaged, keep them in a file so that you can prove their value.
Since many things are happening at the same time, it's understandable to feel overwhelmed. But, make sure to stay organized and keep the insurance claim reference number, adjuster and insurance company contact information, photographs of the damage, repair bills, and estimates in one file so they can be handy when required. Once you have filed the claim, track the insurance claim status. Since the insurance company will be flooded with claims during the disasters, it's essential to follow up on your claim.
Also read: 9 Smart Steps For Buying Life Insurance
Do All Insurance Policies Cover Damage From Natural Disasters?
Most insurance policies do not cover natural disasters labeling them as an act of god. Simply put, an act of god is any unforeseen and unavoidable occurrence that cannot be prevented by human effort. In most cases, insurance companies will not pay for damage caused by an act of god since no human being can be held responsible for such acts, and the resulting damage may be financially devastating. Thus, it's essential to read the fine print in your insurance policies to see if they cover an act of god or not.
Here is a general overview of what natural disasters are covered and not covered under different insurance policies:
However, it's important to note that these are a general overview, and what insurance policies cover differs according to the area, insurance policy, and companies. All insurance plans except life insurance typically cover natural disasters. However, most insurance plans do not cover damage caused by floods, earthquakes, landslides, or mudslides. On the contrary, most auto insurance policies will pay for damages caused by any natural disaster.
One tricky part is that most homeowners insurance generally cover windstorm and hurricane. But, if your house is damaged due to the flood caused by the hurricane, they will not cover you.
Likewise, the insurance company might deny you coverage if you live in a disaster-prone area. That's why it's essential to supplement your coverage with additional plans.
For instance, Numerous hurricanes and other severe windstorms hit Florida every year. So, the people in Florida need to purchase separate windstorm policies to get protected from the potential windstorm risk.
As a result, you should consult with your insurance agent and company to find out what kinds of disasters are and are not covered by your policy.
Also read: How To Qualify For High-Risk Home Insurance
Natural disasters are catastrophic events that may strike with little or no warning and cause massive damage to life and property. Insurance coverage is essential to help you recover from the disaster's severe devastation. Natural disasters are often covered by insurance. However, this might vary by policy, location, and insurer. If you are covered, you must inform your insurance provider, document the damage, and submit a claim.