Severe Storm Season Has Arrived in Biloxi: 5 Tips for Filing Insurance Claims
Tornadoes and severe weather blasted through the Biloxi and Gulfport areas in early April 2017, causing serious property damage to many residential and commercial structures. According to The Sun Herald, trees were down, there was damage to roofs, and a stage blew away at Centennial Park, just to name a few incidents of destruction. As we move deeper into Spring and approach Hurricane Season, there will certainly be more storms causing property damage – leading policyholder to make claims under their insurance policies. If you’ve never filed a claim with your property damage insurer or need to refresh your knowledge, these five tips should help.
- Contact Your Insurer to File a Claim: Start with a phone call to make sure you know where to mail, fax, email, or otherwise notify the company in writing. At this early stage of making a claim under your policy, you need only draft a simple description of what happened and overview of the general damages to your property. You may be given a claim number during this phone call, or after you’ve submitted your written claim. Be sure to write down your claim number and keep it handy.
- Record and Inventory Your Losses: You may be tempted to do clean-up right away, but it’s important to first make a record of all damages to your property and its contents. Get out your smart phone or camera and capture both still images and video, including any interior and exterior damage. An insurance company may send out an adjuster to do the same, but it’s important to also maintain your own records. As you document the damage, jot down an inventory of all damage and items that either need repair or replacement. Also, if you have receipts from purchases (whether in paper or in your email inbox) of items that were damaged or destroyed, start to gather those as well.
- Make Temporary Repairs: There may be some damage that requires immediate attention, such as a hole in the roof or severe flooding. It’s important to discuss repair options with your insurer as you’re making arrangements, because most policies do require you to mitigate damages, i.e., undertake efforts to make sure the damage doesn’t get worse.
- Produce Documents as Requested: Your policy requires you to cooperate with the insurance company as it conducts its investigation, so you can expect to provide relevant documents if the adjuster requests them. Examples may include receipts of items that were damaged or lost, invoices related to repair and replacement of your property’s contents, and bills reflecting repairs to the structure itself. When you don’t have a document that the insurer requests, you may be asked to complete a form called a “Proof of Loss.” This is a sworn statement where you attest to the facts of the damage and there are legal implications for providing false or misleading information. The insurance company may also ask you to undergo a recorded statement about the loss and where you were during the incident and/or storm.
- Consult with a Lawyer About Insurance Disputes: At times, an insurance company may deny your claim in whole or in part, perhaps because it doesn’t have enough information or there are errors in your documents. Ask the insurance company to issue the determination in writing. If you’re facing an insurance dispute over your claim, it’s wise to discuss your matter with an experienced lawyer who can represent your interests in recovering the compensation you deserve under your policy.
For more information on fighting insurance disputes, please contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy Guice. Our lawyers have been serving clients in the Biloxi and Gulfport regions for decades, and we’re happy to answer your questions.