15 Tips to Deal With the Aftermath of a Severe Storm

severe stormThe proper things to do in a severe weather situation are almost second nature to residents of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, but what about after disaster strikes? These tips will ease dealing with the aftermath of a severe storm or other natural disaster. Though we'll refer to your home a number of times, most of these tips also apply to business sites.
  1. If you were away from home when disaster struck, don't enter until you're sure it's safe. If in doubt, rely on the judgment of emergency personnel.
  2. Call your insurance company and your disaster restoration company as soon as possible. It not only makes sense, your insurance policy may require that you contact them ASAP.
  3. If you're coping with a city or region-wide disaster, ask your insurance company if they're sending special teams to the area. These teams will include people who can help with your claim and may include contractors, disaster relief workers, etc.
  4. Every insurer requires policyholders to take certain actions after disaster, often included in a “Duties After a Loss” section in your policy. Know what's required of you in that section and do it immediately. If the insurer can claim you didn't engage in "mitigation of loss," your claim can be reduced. Board up windows, take action to keep water or looters from entering the building, etc.
  5. Check the entire property for damage and make a comprehensive list of everything you find. Document everything with a digital camera or smartphone.
  6. Document damage to neighboring properties as well. Being able to compare their damage to yours can make a big difference in your claim process and prevent your insurer from downgrading your claim by saying neglected maintenance or some other circumstance unrelated to the storm made your damage worse.
  7. Maintain a paper trail over the life of your claim. Communicate with your insurer using email when possible, and document phone calls by sending a follow up email recounting what you discussed.
  8. Don't repair any damage completely unless you have to. This could lead to a difference of opinion as to what exactly happened and/or how expensive fixing it was. Keep a file of receipts for materials/repair services you pay for.
  9. When the insurance adjuster arrives, check his or her identification carefully. In past disasters, criminals have posed as adjusters in order to gain access to homes and businesses.
  10. Don't hesitate to ask for money up front. This is especially important if you evacuated with little or nothing. Ask for an advance against your claim; the insurer will probably agree to send a representative with a check and reduce your final claim payout by that amount.
  11. Some companies will offer a partial settlement early in the claims process. If in doubt, decline it and wait until the whole claims process is finished to get your money. Read any settlement agreement carefully, as it may contain clauses keeping you from filing any other claims from this disaster. Even checks from your insurer may have fine print that cuts off their obligation.
  12. Watch out for “storm chaser” scam artists who come into the area offering disaster restoration services. It's best to deal with established, local contractors, especially if they're recommended by your insurer.
  13. Consider using a public adjuster. Most insurers are decent and fair, but they naturally aim to reduce costs. A public adjuster works as your advocate for a percentage of the total claim. They're especially helpful if your claim is complex and/or requires lots of extra paperwork.
  14. If you're due more than your insurer is offering, keep pressing until you get satisfaction. If necessary, report your insurer to your state's insurance regulatory agency.
  15. Take it slow. The event you just survived will likely be the most stressful you ever experience. Remember that "normal" is just a word and don't be afraid to reach out to a family member, doctor, religious leader or relief organization. As you recover, nothing is more important than your health.
LDR Cleaning and Restoration is one of the premier restoration companies in Rockford, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. LDR provides restoration services from water damage, mold removal, fire damage restoration, storm and hail damage repair for commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Click here to contact LDR, or call 1-888-874-7066. Download your free home disaster planning eBook


 

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