In Kentucky, the arrival of spring is unfortunately accompanied by wild weather. Tornadoes and flash flooding can happen without a moment’s notice. You cannot stop severe weather but, you can prepare for it. When disaster strikes, property and casualty insurers must spring into action with disaster response plans. How quickly an insurer can help return someone’s life back to normal is largely dependent on how well you, the insured, are equipped to weather the storm. Here are some tips to help you plan for the unexpected:
- Create a personal property inventory containing information and photographs of valuable items that you own. Update the inventory periodically.
- Safeguard your records. Store copies of your personal property inventory, insurance policy, and other important documents in a safe place outside of your home, such as a safe deposit box. Also consider scanning/uploading copies of these documents into a password-protected digital dropbox or portable hard-drive so they can be accessed from anywhere if need be at a later date.
- If you sustain real or personal property damage as a result of a natural disaster, contact your insurance company agent immediately to report the damage. If you cannot reach your agent, call your insurance company’s toll-free number.
- If you have to temporarily relocate, be sure to supply the insurance company or agent with an address and number where they can contact you. Many insurance policies offer additional living expenses (ALE) if you are forced to move out of your home due to damage. ALE can be used to reimburse for temporary expenses such as rent, utilities and moving costs.
- Catalog the extent of the damage. Take photographs and/or video of damaged property and write down and or locate any information you can regarding value, purchase date, repair costs, etc. This will help expedite your claim.
- Before throwing out, repairing or discarding damaged property, be sure that a representative of your insurance company has inspected the damage so that an assessment can be completed.
- If you have to make emergency repairs, keep the receipts for such repairs. Do not make permanent repairs without speaking to your company or agent, as unauthorized repairs may not be reimbursable.
- Contact contractors to arrange for the repair of your home. Get multiple bids for the proposed repair.
- If your roof has been damaged, a temporary roof may be necessary to prevent further damage. Insurance policies require you to protect your property from further future damage. If you have a hole in your roof, most roofing companies will provide temporary repairs.
After a natural disaster, it may take several days, or even weeks, for an insurance company representative to inspect and assess damage. Insurance companies and agents do their best to help pick up the pieces, but they need your help. The process can be frustrating for all parties, but it runs more smoothly when you, the insured, are prepared to assist the insurance company in the claim process.
After the sky has fallen (or the water has risen), your cooperation, patience and documentation go a long way to resolving an insurance claim efficiently and getting your life back to normal.
Jason S. Morgan is an Associate of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Mr. Morgan actively represents large, small, established, and new real estate developers and homeowners beginning with the planning phase of a proposed development through zoning changes, development plan approval, financing and the land acquisition processes. He also has extensive experience with residential and commercial construction and insurance litigation. He is located in the firm’s Lexington office and can be reached at email@example.com or at (859) 231-8780.