How to Document and Report Your Losses
Let’s face it. It’s not pleasant to think about the “what ifs” in life. Try as you might to stay positive and well-prepared, sometimes the worst-case scenario is inevitable. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a fire or a tree relocating to the roof of your home, knowing how to proceed after any one of them is the first step to preparedness. If you’ve experienced loss due to a disaster, here are the steps you’ll want to take to ensure that your losses are covered through your insurance company.
Step One: Pre-emptive Preparation
Even before disaster strikes, you can be prepared by organizing your important documents and storing them in a safe or safety deposit box at the bank. Create a binder for your most important information and include:
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Insurance Information
- Account Information and Passwords
This will ensure that, should the worst happen, you will have all the materials you need in one place to proceed with your insurance claims.
Step Two: Secure Your Property
If your home has suffered damages from a fire or natural disaster, your first action should be to prevent further damage as best you can. If your roof has been compromised, try to temporarily seal it to prevent damage from the elements. If your pipes have burst, make sure you turn your water off. If your house has experienced a fire, make sure you contact the fire department to ensure that all steps have been taken to prevent a flare-up. As an insurance policy holder, it is your responsibility, as agreed upon with your insurance provider, to minimize harm to the property to they can compensate you for damages incurred by the incident. In many cases, your insurance company will reimburse you for any costs to secure the property, so be sure to record those and save receipts for any materials.
Step Three: Take Photos or Video of the Damage
Fortunately, most people are equipped with a decent camera right in their cell phone, so it is easier than ever to make visual records of the damages your home has suffered. Make sure that you take photos from every angle to provide the most accurate details for your insurance adjuster. It’s better to take too many photos or videos as opposed to not enough! Include the photos and video in your insurance claim, but keep a copy for your own records as well.
Step Four: Take Inventory of Your Losses
This is usually the most difficult part of filing your insurance claim, as it is sometimes difficult to remember every single thing you had in any given part of your home. Make a list of every item that was lost or destroying in the disaster. Include in that list the locations that each item was purchased at, as best you are able, as well as how much it will cost you to replace each item. The more thorough you are able to be with the list, the faster the insurance company can reimburse you for your losses.
While no one wants to think about the worst happening, it is always wise to make sure you’re prepared. Make sure you’re aware of exactly what your home owner’s insurance policy covers so that there are no surprises if disaster strikes. By educating yourself about the options available to you, it will give you peace of mind to know you’re ready for anything.