Hiring a Contractor:
Be skeptical of solicitors. Anyone who wants you to sign a contract right away may not have your best interest at heart. Talk to your insurance agent about who is reputable, do your own research, and ask for references. If you do sign a contract that you don’t feel right about, you may have 72 hours to cancel it without reason. Check your local laws. Provide the cancelation in writing and save a copy. Anyone performing emergency repairs will need you to sign a contract authorizing them to work in your home. Take time to read the document and make sure you are aware of what you are agreeing to. You can make handwritten changes as needed. You will want to ensure you get a copy for your records.
Get a Notebook:
Buy a spiral bound notebook for each claim you have. Many people will have a homeowners claim and may also have an auto claim at the same time. You will have different people assisting you through each claim. Dedicate the first page of your notebook to recording contact information of the people you are working with. You should also write your insurance claim number on this page. Most companies you work with will need to have your claim number and adjuster contact. Use the remaining pages to take notes and write down questions that come to mind.
Create an email folder for your claim. Move all emails related to your claim into that folder. These could be from your agent, adjuster, contractor, or other entities. Having a single place to search for an email can save you time and reduce stress.
If you must necessarily be out of your home because it is unlivable, save your receipts. If you need to buy food, toothbrushes, clothing, etc. save your receipts in an envelope. If you can keep them in chronological order that will help your adjuster to reimburse you more efficiently. Different policies provide different coverages. Partner with your adjuster to find out what benefit your policy is able to provide.
Most insurance policies will help you with temporary housing while your home is unlivable. Ask your agent or adjuster about this coverage.
Take photos in each room of your home. Take at least four photos of each room. One photo from each corner. Detailed photos of higher dollar or rare items are also a good idea. Insurance company firewalls do not always allow video files to be received by your adjuster.
Make Your Health a Priority:
Take time for yourself. Sleep. Exercise. Find reasons to laugh. Make this an adventure for children. They will mirror your attitude and reactions.
This can be a stressful event and you may forget answers to questions you already asked. That is okay. Those who help others through these types of situations understand you may need to ask the same question multiple times and we want you to ask until you have a good understanding.
Be Open to Help:
During catastrophic events, First Responders, Insurance Companies, Contractors, Humanitarian Aid Workers, and many more are mobilizing to ensure they can help everyone. You may find assistance in unexpected places. Talk to your friends and neighbors to share resources.