Hurricanes are incredibly powerful forces of nature, and they can decimate not only your home or business but your health and finances. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to get back on your feet after a disaster.
(1) Photograph All of the Damage
Images of your home or business — ideally taken before and after the storm — will provide the evidence you need to file an insurance claim (and a lawsuit, if it comes to that). Without them, there’s no proof that you suffered the damages that you’re claiming.
You want both wide-angle and close-up shots of your property, furniture, appliances: anything that was damaged by the hurricane. (If you were able to safely record video during the storm, even better.) You can’t have too much evidence, but you can have too little, so don’t be afraid to snap away. Store these images online if you can, especially if your phone got wet during the storm.
To further strengthen your claim, keep an updated list of all the damage suffered, and a record of all the related costs, including receipts. Your goal is to be reimbursed for as many of these expenses as possible.
(2) File an Insurance Claim Promptly
Not every homeowner’s insurance policy includes coverage for wind and flood damage, so hopefully, you checked yours prior to the storm hitting to make sure you had comprehensive coverage. Regardless, you want to file a claim as soon as possible after a disaster. If you delay, the insurance company may try to argue that the damages occurred after the storm, not during it. This is where all those pictures and videos come in handy.
If the insurance company drags its heels processing your claim, don’t worry. An attorney should be able to step in and handle them so that you can focus on your recovery. (More on this in Step 4.)
(3) Look Into Disaster Assistance
While you wait for the insurance company to process your claim, you can also file for federal disaster assistance. Depending on where you live and how much damage you suffered, you may be entitled to a grant, a loan, a tax deduction, or a tax deadline extension. Some programs also offer financial counseling, or even flood-proofing your home.
Organizations like the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and other community groups can also lend a helping hand. Many provide disaster victims with food, medical supplies, and other items. You may also be able to find shelter through a local or federal aid group.
If you have internet access, do a Google search to see what help might be available to you. If you don’t have internet, watch local news programs — they should be covering disaster aid and assistance.
(4) Speak With a Hurricane Claim Attorney
It’s no secret that insurance companies aren’t always eager to fulfill even valid claims. Their top priority is their bottom line, so generally speaking, they try to pay out as little as possible. This is a problem under any circumstance, but especially for someone who’s just been through an event as harrowing as a hurricane.
If the insurance company is denying, delaying, or trying to underpay your claim, contact a hurricane claim attorney immediately. Just because you heard “No” from the insurance company doesn’t mean you’re not owed money for damages. But they may require some convincing, and that’s where an attorney can be absolutely invaluable. They can advocate on your behalf and negotiate with the insurance company for full compensation. If necessary, a lawyer can even take the insurance company to court, but most cases will be settled before it comes to that.
Don’t let a greedy corporation kick you while you’re down. Contact an attorney to make sure you recover what you deserve. It could mean the difference between bouncing back from a hurricane and letting it blow away all your finances.
To learn more about how an attorney can help you, visit ForThePeople.com.