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Insurance: Steps to Take After a Disaster

Money & Debt

Filing insurance claims after a disaster

This article provides information about steps to take after a disaster and tips for helping work with your insurer. These tips are from Lone Star Legal Aid. The original is here.

Insurance Steps

Step 1: Review Your Insurance Policy Deadlines

  • Find a copy of your policy. Your agent can provide one if needed.
  • Carefully read your policy.
  • Know the deadlines for giving notice of loss to your insurance company.

Step 2: Review Which Losses Are Covered

  • Think about all insurance policies that might cover a loss. This includes property, car, and health.

Step 3: Find the Correct Address to Send Notice of Your Claim

  • Look at your policy. Find the address where you send a written notice.

Step 4: Follow Up After Sending Written Notice of Your Claim

  • Give written notice of loss to your insurance company. It is a good idea to call the company immediately. Then follow up with a written notice. The written notice is a MUST.

Step 5: Take Photos & Videos

  • Take photos and videos of property damage if possible before making repairs.

Step 6: Make a Detailed List of Damaged & Destroyed Property

  • Make a list of damaged or lost items. Ask your insurance agent about any specific required forms.

Step 7: Keep All Your Receipts

  • Keep receipts for any expenses to repair your property. Keep receipts for any extra living costs such as hotels and meals away from home.

Step 8: Give the List to Your Insurer

  • Give your insurance company a list of all expenses. Find out if you need to get approval before spending any money or making any contracts.

Step 9: Review Your Policy for Additional Special Deadlines

  • Check your insurance policy for deadlines or special requirements. You must follow all the rules listed in your policy as much as you can.
  • For example, flood insurance has different rules. Proof of loss for flood insurance must be submitted within 60 days, unless the deadline is extended.

Step 10: Send Your Insurance All the Proof of Losses You've Gathered

  • Send in proof of loss and other papers the policy requires to obtain coverage and payments from the insurance company. This includes photos and receipts.

Step 11: Request Advanced Payments

  • Request partial or advance payments from your insurance company as needed.

Step 12: Take Detailed Notes When You Speak with Insurance Representatives

  • Keep notes whenever you talk with your insurance company, agent or broker. This includes the dates and times and the people in the conversation.

Step 13: Keep Copies of All Written Communication

  • Keep copies of all letters, emails, etc., that are sent to your insurance company or agent. Keep copies of all letters, emails, etc. that you get from your insurance company or agent.

Step 14: Carefully Review Release Statements When Insurance Money is Paid

  • Review checks, payments, letters, emails, etc., from your insurance company. Make sure there is not any language releasing or giving up any claims. Discuss with your agent if you are in doubt.  You also may need to talk to an attorney.

Step 15: Follow-up

  • Follow up with your insurance company about your claim.

Step 16: Seek Legal Help for Unfair Treatment

  • Get legal help if you believe you are being treated unfairly.

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