This is why it is essential to surround yourself with people to help guide you through the process.
Equally important is how you approach the first few hours following the disaster.
Here’s what you should consider.
What to Do Now?
If your home is damaged by water, mold, fire, smoke, or sewer backup, you may not be prepared to deal with it. Hence, you may try to figure out what to do.
Insurance aside, the first thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone in this challenging process.
That said, who should you contact?
Restoration companies and public adjusters are part of the ecosystem of available resources.
Most people ignore these resources because they do not know that they exist in the first place.
Beyond being part of the first responders and handling the cleanup process, one of a restoration company’s primary role is to document the claim and work alongside the insurance and victims to make sure you get your money and are able to rebuild.
For those who have been through a disaster insurance claim, understand it is a process.
Like any process, there is a beginning, middle, end, and decisions to make. It is especially true in dealing with a disaster.
Here’s what to do.
When a disaster strikes, think safety first.
Always make sure you, your family members, or co-workers are safe. Depending on the nature of the disaster, stay away from anything that can cause further hazards.
Leave your home if it is unsafe to remain there while first responders arrive on-site. Avoid saving items yourself or assessing the damages if the cause of the damage is not under control.
It may sound obvious, but it is harder to think clearly under a state of shock or emotion. Hence, wait for professionals to help you.
Assess What Happened.
Once the cause of the disaster is under control, and you can safely access the site, try to assess the overall situation to get the big picture of what happened and what was damaged.
Again, do not take unnecessary risks. Keep your safety in mind first and foremost. Go back to your home only if it is entirely safe to do so. Always take a moment to think before entering any area of your home.
At this point, you do not need to get into the nitty-gritty details of the damage. Your insurance company and the restoration company will help you figure that out in more detail at a later point.
What you need to do is to make initial observations to explain what happened. For instance, try to understand:
If you have a smartphone, try to take photographs of the damage. These first pictures will help you with the disaster insurance claim.
In the event that you contact a restoration company early enough in the process, the restoration company will take pictures to help document your claim.
It is essential not to move anything if you are taking pictures. Leave the place the way you find it. Do not start the cleaning process or triage of your belongings.
Remember that you are not helping yourself over the long term, even if you have the best of all intentions. If your floor is soaking in water, leave the water.
If your belongings are floating in the water, leave them too. If you clean up around you instead of documenting what happened, you set yourself up for a complicated and painful disaster insurance claim.
Who Should You Call First?
Insurance companies will say to call the insurance first.
Public adjusters will tell you to call them first.
In most cases, people call their insurance first. Although it is critical to declare a disaster promptly, here’s the tricky part.
The insurance company always asks for more information and tries to understand what caused the disaster and extent of the disaster - that is not always directly visible or clear.
As homeowners are usually not experts in most cases and can be emotionally impacted during the call, they sometimes misinterpret what they see or misrepresent unintentionally what happened.
Remember a simple rule when talking to your insurance: Everything you say will be used as part of the claim process. So, should you call your insurance immediately?
The short answer is: Not necessarily. Calling a restoration company first can help you in your decision-making process.
Depending on your deductible, and the severity of the damage, you may simply avoid recording a claim with your insurance. A restoration company can help you decide if you should contact your insurance. Besides, you may avoid higher insurance rates along the way.
It’s that simple.
If the damage is significant, a restoration company can handle the entire process on your behalf.
A restoration company can:
Once all this information is collected, the only thing you will have to do is call the insurance and share the information gathered.
Remember that this is the core business of restoration companies. They are used to claims and process thousands of claims every year.
In other words, they know the system, how it works, what to do, how to do it, how to negotiate in your best interest, and how it can be tricky if not properly handled.
If you face a stressful situation, calling a restoration company first is your best bet and ally in the first few hours after the loss happened, and not only for securing, cleaning, and the reconstruction part.
You Are in a Different Spot Now
Knowledge comes from information, and power comes from knowledge.
The best way to approach a claim is to contact a restoration company early enough in the post-disaster process.
Although no one expects disasters to happen, it is good to do the due diligence and call the best restoration companies in case of an emergency. Try to make sure that the company offers:
National brands may not be the best choice for the special interests they may have with larger insurance companies. As it is right for many things, shop independent and local preferably.
As disasters can happen at any time, have you ever considered connecting and selecting restoration companies as part of your emergency preparedness plan?