Be Prepared When the Adjuster Comes Callin’

July 28, 2005

You are one of the 104,121 flood insurance policyholders in the Panhandle, and you just got hit by Hurricane Dennis. You’ve filed a claim with your insurance company. What do you do next?

* First, be sure that your agent has on file a phone number where you can be reached, especially if your home was damaged to the extent that you are no longer living there. Then, while you await a phone call from an adjuster—either an insurance company employee or an independent contractor hired by the insurer—there are a number of steps you can take to prepare for the adjuster’s visit.
* As soon as it is safe to visit the property, photograph both the outside and inside so that you will have a record of the damage and the height of the water. Photograph or videotape all damaged possessions as well.
* If you have already prepared a thorough, detailed list of your home’s contents, now is the time to update it. If you have not done so, take an inventory of all your items now, separating the damaged from the undamaged.
* If some things are too damaged to save and may pose a health hazard, such as soaked carpeting or drapes, be sure to save a swatch of the fabric for the adjuster.
* It is a good idea to have receipts for any items of value, as this helps the adjuster establish their current worth. It is also a good idea to have readily available the model and serial numbers of any damaged appliances or electronic gear. The better and more detailed your records, the faster the claim can be settled.
* You may want to get a contractor’s estimate of what it will cost to repair the damage even before the adjuster arrives. If you do, be sure to provide the contractor’s quote to the adjuster so that it can be considered in preparing the insurer’s estimate.
* When the adjuster arrives, the claim can be processed more quickly if the two of you can agree right away on the “scope of the damage,” that is, exactly what needs to be repaired or replaced, without arriving at a dollar amount.
* Depending on the complexity of the claim, a settlement can sometimes be made on the first visit. If a full settlement cannot be made at that time, often an adjuster can supply an advance or partial payment.
* If you have a question or problem with flood insurance issues, visit one of the Disaster Recovery Centers that have been set up in your area to talk to a flood specialist.
* If your damaged property is in a Special Flood Hazard Area, be sure to contact your local building officials before starting any repairs or rebuilding to be sure you will be in compliance with flood zone ordinances.

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