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Insurance company claims during natural disasters

Like many across the country, those in New York likely watched the news as devastating hurricanes battered the East Coast. While some may have breathed a sigh of relief to have been spared, others probably realized they could easily be the victims of such a tragedy, whether it comes as a hurricane, a blizzard or some other force of nature. When homes and valuables are at risk, homeowners may depend on their insurance company to get them back on their feet again after a disaster.

Insurance adjusters know how easily the claims process goes when homeowners have already assessed the damage and prepared documentation for an insurance claim. Those who plan ahead have an inventory of valuables, perhaps including photographs. Gathering as much information about the belongings lost in the home -- including serial numbers, purchase dates, receipts etc. -- will speed up the claims process.

While most homeowners are understandably eager to clean up the mess and begin repairs so they can return to a normal life, experts say this is not the best plan. Inspectors will likely want to see the damage for themselves before offering a settlement. To arrive on the scene and find repairs underway may not give an adjustor a fair idea of the extent of the damage, potentially resulting in a lower payout.

One sadly common occurrence is when homeowners discover they have accidentally let their policy lapse, failed to purchase adequate coverage or purchased policies that do not cover the type of damage they are facing, such as a flood. Additionally, New York homeowners may not take reasonable measures to prevent the damage or to lessen the impact. In such cases, they may blame the insurance company for acting in bad faith. When this happens, insurance companies may seek the counsel and assistance of an experienced attorney.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Question your insurance adjustor before claim decisions are made", Robert Morast, Sept. 15, 2017

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