Ways to Protect Yourself During the Insurance Claims Process
When filing an insurance claim after a natural disaster, such as the recent Central Texas wildfires, it is important to take precautions to preserve evidence and strengthen your claim. This is a checklist of steps you should take NOW to protect yourself, your family, and your property during the claims process:
- Do everything you can to keep your home from suffering any further damage. For example, if your roof has holes in it, cover these holes with a tarp to prevent more damage to the interior of your home. Make sure you keep receipts for any actions you take, and make sure you photograph your home before and after you take these protective measures.
- Pictures are incredibly important, and you should take pictures of the damage to your home and possessions as soon as possible. If you have repairs done on your home, you should also take pictures when repairs are done. Finally, you should try and collect pictures of your home and possessions that were taken before the fire. If you don’t have any pictures, or if they were damaged in the fire, see if any family members or friends have pictures you could have.
- If any of your possessions have to be disposed of because of the fire, take pictures of these items and keep a list of them. Also take pictures and write down all of your damaged property that you are not disposing of.
- Do what you can to find or estimate the cost of any damaged or destroyed items.
- If you are a business, keep track of any business interruptions your company has experienced because of the fires. You can use past business records to estimate how much money you lost while you were unable to operate.
- As soon as you are able, let your insurance company know about your losses. Take note of your claim number as well as the representative who helped you. If you have any further interactions with your insurance company, keep extremely detailed notes of these conversations, including information regarding deadlines, requirements, and questions your insurance company asked of you.
- Do not sign anything or agree to any amount of compensation from your insurance company until you have discussed the situation with a qualified legal representative. Your insurance company might try to pay you less than what you are owed according to your policy for your losses, and an experienced attorney can help you recognize these dealings and fight for the full compensation you deserve.
- If you suspect that you are being treated unfairly in any way by your insurance company, seek legal help IMMEDIATELY.
Remember, this check-list is not a substitute for legal advice. Insurance companies hire appraisers to value your structure and contents. In many cases, these values are much lower than reasonable values, and may lead to you being underpaid. If you have questions about the insurance claims process or your unique situation, please call the Central Texas fire claim attorneys of Williams Kherkher at 800-639-8460 for a consultation.