comes the evacuation, a mad scramble for insurance documents, financial
statements, family heirlooms and anything else you can grab. As you drive away,
smoke shrouds the windows, flames lick the rooftop. Your home is reduced to
the fire trucks and reporters have gone, you're left with a charred concrete and
lingering emotional trauma. You must deal with door-to-door solicitors and fend
off shady contractors and other scam artists who prey on disaster victims. And
if part of the house is left standing, you'll need to secure the property to
fend off looters.
the Big Question: What do I do now?
the first step?
securing your family's safety, contact your agent or your insurance company as
soon as possible.
documents should I be prepared to provide?
helpful to have copies of your insurance policy and "declarations"
page, which details your specific coverage limits. A comprehensive
inventory of your home's contents, including photographs or video records will
smooth the process.
if my insurance documents were destroyed in the fire?
insurance company should have all of your policy information on file, so you
will still be covered. But it makes sense to always keep your home's inventory
in a readily accessible safe, secure location such as a fire proof safe or a
safety deposit box at your financial institution, because that will be
difficult, if not impossible to reconstruct in the aftermath of disaster.
I'm burned out of my home, what documentation do I need to be reimbursed for
victims should keep receipts for all hotel rooms, food and staples bought to
maintain their regular standard of living. Coverage for additional living
expenses is standard with homeowner's policies at most insurers. You may want to
make sure you have it when you do your annual coverage checkup.
if I'm a renter?
insurance typically covers the customer's personal belongings and emergency
living expenses, so the same advice applies: Keep an up-to-date home inventory,
and save receipts if you are forced to leave. Landlords, conversely, will
generally be covered for lost rent.
do I need to process my claim?
prepared to give your agent or insurance representative a description of the
damage. Your agent will report the loss to your insurance company or to a
qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the
damage. Be sure to give your agent a telephone number where you can be
photos of the damaged areas. These will help you with the claims process and
will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Be sure
to make two copies -- one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list
should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items,
dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated
canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the
adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.
whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and
walls to prevent further destruction. Save receipts for supplies and
materials you purchase. Your insurance company will reimburse you for
reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable
contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the
proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
losses will be given priority. Losses will be adjusted and claims paid as
quickly as possible but hardship cases are usually handled first. If your
home has been destroyed or seriously damaged, your agent will do everything
possible to assure you are given priority.
Insurance Information Institute has also prepared a free brochure
"Settling An Insurance Claim After A Disaster." Consumers can get
a copy by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Insurance
110 William Street
or by accessing III's web site at: www.iii.org.
In addition, the Institute for Business & Home Safety has
information on what a home owner and business owner can do to increase their
protection against everyday storms as well as natural disasters. Visit their Web
site at www.disastersafety.org.
insurance companies have set up 800 hotlines for those insureds.
Allstate: (800) 54-STORM or (800) 547-8676
American Skyline Insurance Co.: (888) 298-5224
American International Group: (800) 433-8880 (auto & home)
Atlantic Mutual: (800) 945-7461
Bituminous: (800) 822-2905 (Florida)
Church Mutual: (800) 554-2642
Citizens Property Insurance Corp.: (888) 685-1555
CHUBB: (800) CLAIMS-0 or (800) 252-4670
CNA: (877) 733-4250
CUNA Mutual: (800) 637-2676
Farmers: (800) 435-7764
Fireman's Fund: (888) FIRE-HAT or (888) 347-3428
GE Employers: (866) 413-8978
GEICO: (800) 841-3005
The Hartford: (800) 243-5860
Holyoke Mutual: (800) 225-2533
Industrial Risk Insurers: (860)520-7347 (commercial claims)
Liberty Mutual: (800) 2-CLAIMS or (800) 225-2467
Louisiana Farm Bureau: (866) 275-7322
Metropolitan Auto & Home: (800) 854-6011
Nationwide: (800) 421-3535
OneBeacon: (877) 248-4968
Royal & Sun Alliance: (800) 847-6925
SAFECO: (800) 332-3226
Selective: (866) 455-9969
Shelter Insurance Group: (800) SHELTER
St. Paul Travelers: (800) CLAIM-33 or (800) 252-4633
State Farm Insurance: (800) SF-CLAIM or (800) 732-5246
Texas Farm Bureau: (800) 772-6535
USAA: (800) 531-8222
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