Filing Hurricane Sandy Claims |

Filing Hurricane Sandy Claims

FILE CLAIMS PROMPTLY

You may get faster attention if you submit a claim quickly. “Homeowners who get in line first have a better chance of recovery than those who make claims quite a bit later,” observes Glenn Rosen, a Los Angeles attorney with the Merlin Law Group who represents consumers and business owners in cases against insurance companies.

Federal flood insurance typically carries a 60-day deadline, though it often gets extended after extreme events. If you miss that deadline your flood insurance could very well be worthless.

CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY

Call your insurer as soon as you see damage and let them know if you need to spend money to make immediate repairs. However, don’t characterize the cause of the damage, as the company could dredge up your remarks at a later date and use them to deny your claim. For example, you would well advise to say, “My window is broken, and there is water on my dining room floor and I am going to buy plywood to cover the window.” Accordingly, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by saying, “Wind broke my window and my dining room flooded.” “The best advice is to hire a public adjuster to represent you as saying the wrong thing could jeopardize your claim” states John Schoon, of Pride Public Adjusters, Inc.

DRY OUT

Hire an emergency services company to dry everything out and dehumidify the area. Some big national chains include Servpro, Storm 24, Amcat and Belfor. They’ll bring in equipment, such as special fans, to get things dry again. Getting your stuff dry is really of the utmost importance because mold can be an even a bigger headache than flooding. “Insurance policies have limitations for mold,” Schoon warns.

Check with your insurer before laying out large amounts of money for repairs, as they may refuse to reimburse you in the future. They typically will pay small amounts for immediate fixes, such as a tarp to cover that gaping hole in the roof. Of course, keep all of your receipts.

GET A ROOM, BUT KEEP TABS

If you move into a hotel because your house is without power, that’s on you. However, most insurers will cover hotel stays if your house really is uninhabitable, thanks to a gaping hole in the roof or a tree in your bedroom, for example. You may also be covered for meals and hotel stays if local or state authorities had a mandatory evacuation of your neighborhood.

If you need to leave your house because it is flooded, don’t expect the same coverage. Federal flood insurance doesn’t cover hotel bills and the like, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

KNOW THE RULES OF YOUR STATE

What the storm is called when it hits your house will affect your coverage, depending on your state of residence. If you are in New Jersey, for example, and the storm hits as a hurricane on the coast, but downgrades to a tropical storm by the time it hits your house, the higher hurricane deductible may still apply to your claim. “It was applied state-wide in Irene,” Hunter says.


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