Tornado Destruction: 15 Essential Steps To Getting The Best Outcome From Your Insurance Claim
Tornado Insurance Claims
In this article, we cover the essentials for maximizing your peace of mind, as well as your claim settlement.
NOTE: When referring to “the adjuster” below, we are speaking of the insurance company’s adjuster, not an independent public adjuster such as The Howarth Group..
The Right Mindset
- Do not try to rush the process! As unfortunate as your loss has been, it’s better not to add to the harm by being in a hurry to settle your claim. Remember patience is a virtue and it will take time to work out a complete and fair settlement. Speed is the enemy of a good settlement.
- There is no reason to hire anyone to help you negotiate the structural portion of tornado insurance claims until the insurance company has provided you with an estimate. It makes no sense to pay someone a percentage of what the insurance company is going to offer anyway. You won’t know whether you are going to be treated unfairly until you get your estimate.
Actions To Take Now
- Take lots of pictures inside and outside of the damage. A picture is worth a thousand words.
- Ask your adjuster in writing to provide you with a complete and certified copy of your policy. This way you can be sure you have the most updated information available about the coverages your premiums have paid for.
- If any personal property has been damaged beyond repair list it in inventory. Nothing should be too small to list. Show replacement cost value for items at today’s retail price. It’s a daunting task but it’s your duty, not the insurance adjuster’s, to put together this list.
- Get broken windows and doors boarded up to prevent theft and additional damage. Additionally, put a tarp on the roof where there are holes. Keep receipts for those expenses as you will be reimbursed by your insurance adjuster.
What NOT To Do
- Do not hire a “preferred” contractor. They work for insurance companies and as a result, are more interested in keeping them happy than you.
- There is no reason to hire a general contractor to begin repairs until the structural portion of your claim is settled. AND don’t allow them to handle negotiations with your adjuster. In most cases, they have a greater interest in getting the job started than in taking the time to negotiate a better settlement.
- Don’t allow the insurance company to put you in housing that is half the size of your current house. Most policies provide coverage that will pay the cost for you to live in a dwelling equivalent in size and quality of the property that was damaged.
- Do not allow anyone to demolish or tear out any of the damaged structures. Until the structural portion of tornado insurance claims are completely and finally settled the structure should remain as is. Destroying “evidence” will only hurt your chances of getting completely indemnified.
Last, But Not Least
- Keep a written log of any activity associated with your claim (including conversations with your insurance company’s adjuster). They will certainly do this as well. Don’t let the insurance company be the only one documenting the claim.
- Put any request for information or answers in writing to the adjuster. It will send them a very obvious message that you are taking this claim seriously and it will force them to respond in kind. What is written carries infinitely more weight than what is said.
- Answer any questions truthfully. It’s very common to be asked to give a recorded statement. It’s a formality in most instances.
- Ask your insurance agent to provide you with an updated declarations page. This document will show you the policy limits for your structure, contents, and additional living expenses.
- As with all tornado insurance claims, do not throw away clothes or household items before the inventory is complete, every item is photographed AND the insurance carrier has approved it IN WRITING.
At The Howarth Group, we’ve helped literally hundreds of people with tornado insurance claims as well as related damage from winds, hail, etc. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation on your claim.
ALSO, SEE Our Page “What To Do After A Loss”