Disasters and Insurance

America's Top Insurance Lawyer Says Prepare Now

June 2, 2011

Recent disasters across America present a challenge to victims who have suffered devastating losses. Those who once had their lives in perfect working order, have had it changed in minutes, by flooding, fires and tornadoes. Just finding your insurance policy amidst the destruction is most likely impossible, throw in the personal trauma and loss and all of a sudden, entire communities are overwhelmed, says Frank N. Darras.

Hurricane season has officially kicked in and as predictions are made about the intensity and amount of storms likely to hit the eastern seaboard, think about getting your financial house in order when it comes to insurance. See www.darraslaw.com.

"No matter what the disaster, having an emergency insurance action plan in advance can save your family and protect your finances," says Darras.

Here are some steps you can take now, before disaster strikes:

  • Make sure you have video footage and photos of your property, structures and personal property
  • Make copies of your insurance policies and your videos, send to a trusted friend or relative for safekeeping in a different region of the country
  • Have an updated inventory list of personal property, drawer by drawer, closet by closet, room by room and don't forget the garage
  • Video all your property once a year
  • Know the name of your insurance company, their phone number and your policy number
  • Know your insurance agent's telephone number

The Claims Process

Once a disaster has occurred, the claims process begins. It is important to be organized and have accurate details in a location you can access. Taking detailed notes and keeping meticulous records of every conversation you have with your insurance company is tantamount to your success in getting fully reimbursed for your losses. Much of the burden is on victims after a disaster, so ensure you are prepared in advance, as you will be asked to:

  • Provide the insurance adjuster with an inventory or photos and videotape of the pre-loss site so there is an accurate accounting of the property prior to the event
  • Take inventory of the damaged personal property
  • You may have to have a qualified contractor make temporary repairs to prevent additional loss—be sure to get a bill or invoice for this emergency service
  • Double check your insurance policy to determine if you have Additional Living Expenses coverage
  • Keep a list of living expenses and receipts if you cannot live in your home due to damage
  • If your home is unlivable, discontinue service with utility companies

Insurance companies get hit hard too in a disaster and as they struggle to maintain their bottom line, the difficulty in getting your claims paid can rise exponentially if do not have current records, says Darras.

"So before a disaster strikes, review your policy, make smart choices. If you have any questions about your policy, be sure to have a top insurance attorney review your policy and make sure you are adequately protected. Remember too, that paying cheap premiums to a company you don't recognize may lead you to a bigger disaster, so only buy from a company you recognize," says Darras.