The devastation brought on by Hurricane Irma has made international headlines.
The vicious storm claimed the lives of nearly 50 people in the United States and the Caribbean. Additionally, recent reports show that an astounding 90% of homes within the Florida Keys were damaged by the storm.
Many people are reading about the over $200 billion in damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. However, for others, the aftermath hits closer to home.
In addition to trying to figure out when your power will be restored, locating lost items, and attempting to stay high and dry, you’ve also probably already thought about how to file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim.
We understand that the last thing you want to do is spend hours on the phone or attempt to decode your insurance policy.
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim.
Step One: Contact Your Insurance Company
The first thing you need to do when you’re ready to file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim?
Reach out to your insurance company and let them know your situation.
Keep in mind that depending on how hard the storm hit your specific area, your insurance company might not be able to get on the ground yet. This is due to issues like downed trees, fallen power lines, and flooding. Sometimes, an insurance company may even be barred from entry due to evacuation orders.
No matter whether or not your insurance company can get to your home yet, contacting them and letting them know about your intention to file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim is crucial.
Because you want to be as close to the “front of the line” as possible. Keep in mind that many claims are handled based on a first-come, first-serve rule. If you don’t reach them the first time (a possibility, thanks to a high volume of calls) keep trying.
Make sure you store these contact numbers on your phone for the future.
Step Two: Start Keeping Meticulous Records
When it comes to those calls you make to file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim?
They’re just one of the many things you need to be keeping a detailed record of. Write down the date and time of every attempt to contact your insurance company. Additionally, when you do get someone on the line, immediately make notes of what was said in the conversation.
This won’t just help you to keep track of everything that’s going on.
It will also offer you a way to hold your insurance company accountable to their promises.
Ensure that you get the name of the representative you spoke with, and record the length and time of your call. As with disaster-preparedness, the more detailed you are, the better it will serve you in the future.
It’s also a good idea to store the claim number on your phone, or in another easily-accessible place. That way, you can quickly follow up when needed, or take advantage of when your insurance company contacts you.
Take Pictures and Keep Track of Receipts
We know you’ve likely recorded lots of cell phone video of the storm, and taken lots of pictures of the damage.
But be sure you’re also taking photos and video of your home and damage to your property. This will help you when you file your Hurricane Irma insurance claim.
Depending on the type of coverage you have, your Hurricane Irma insurance claim may be able to quickly reimburse some repairs and expenses.
This is called “additional living expense” coverage. Often, it gets you reimbursed for things like meals, any temporary housing costs, and more. Always save your receipts just in case.
Step Three: Understand Your Coverage
We know that, depending on the level of coverage you have, it can be tricky to figure out how to file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim.
Keep reading to learn more about the more specific steps you need to follow.
If You’re Not Insured/Are Under-Insured
If you live in an area that’s been declared as a “high-risk” zone for flooding, you’ve been required by law to buy flood insurance.
However, many people who lived outside of those zones couldn’t purchase flooding insurance before the 30-day waiting period required for the policies to go into effect.
However, if you have coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (which is backed by the United States government) you’ll be covered for $250,000 worth of home repairs. You’ll also have $100,000 of coverage to replace personal possessions lost or destroyed during the hurricane.
What should you do if you don’t have that coverage?
Go immediately to DisasterAssistance.gov.
You might be eligible for loans with a low rate of interest or even federal grants. These funds will help you to cover some of the expenses associated with repairs, lost property, and damages.
If You Have Insurance
The first thing you need to be aware of is that you may have to be financially responsible for paying a deductible on your insurance.
Usually, these deductibles range anywhere from 2%-10% of the total insurance value of your home. Or, you may simply have a “flat-rate” deductible of $500. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay this first — so make it a financial priority.
It’s also likely that you have several types of insurance relating to covering damages.
Often, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods, landslides, loss of power, and severe wind damage. As a result, you may have purchased separate policies to protect your home.
However, you are covered for theft, falling objects, hail, and more.
However, if you don’t have separate flooding and wind damage policies, you may still be reimbursed for some of the costs of these damages.
Again, this is a situation where you’ll need to speak with your specific insurance company directly to understand what you are and aren’t covered for.
As always, write everything down.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
We know that, when it comes to rebuilding your life after a hurricane, you may feel ready to jump into action as soon as possible.
However, doing too much can actually hurt you when you go to file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim.
For example, make sure that you don’t throw away any damaged pieces of personal property until your insurance representative or agency has told you it is OK to do so.
If you act prematurely, you may lose the possibility of coverage for items you threw away.
Until you have clear answers from your insurance company about what is and isn’t covered, it’s also best to avoid making permanent repairs to your home. Instead, look for “temporary” fixes, like roof patching. Again, ensure you hold on to every receipt you’re given during this process.
However, when you’re getting these temporary repairs handled, speak to contractors about the probable cost of these permanent repairs. That way, you’ll have estimates to give to your insurance company when you file a Hurricane Irma insurance claim.
Additionally, remember that in general, your insurance policy won’t cover tree removal or anything else that blew or fell into your yard. However, if a tree fell on something that was protected by your insurance policy, you may be covered for its removal.
Finally — and most importantly — always think before you sign anything.
The sad truth is that many insurance companies and untrustworthy contractors will attempt to take advantage of a desperate situation. Just as you shouldn’t assume that you are covered for certain things, don’t always assume that you’re not, either.
If a contractor tries to get you to sign what’s called an Assignment of Benefits, walk away immediately.
This document transfers your right to get paid for your insurance claim away from you and to the contractor that you’re working with.
Ready To File A Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim?
If you’ve been affected by Hurricane Irma, we know that right now, it feels like your life is in pieces.
However, slowly but surely, you’ll find you’re ready to put those pieces back together again.
When you’re ready to — literally — get a roof over your head again, we’re here to help you make it happen. After you’ve filed a Hurricane Irma insurance claim, it’s time to start restoring and rebuilding.
We know that your home isn’t just an investment. It’s a place where you’ve made memories, had wonderful experiences and spent precious moments with your family.
No hurricane can take that away from you.
Reach out to us today to learn more about how our roofing services can help you to restore your home and get your life back. We serve the Tampa Bay area, as well as Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas.
Don’t let Hurricane Irma steal a minute more of your life. Together, let’s work to get you back into your home as soon as possible.