The National Insurance Crime Bureau, an organization supported by 1,100 insurance companies, reported an increase in 2013 in frequency and intensity of wind, hail and tornado storms, which can result in property damage and loss of life. The NICB also reported an 84 percent increase in claims due to hailstorms from 2010 to 2012. If a hailstorm damages your property and your homeowners or auto insurance policy covers that kind of incident, you should report it to your insurance company as soon as possible.
Documentation Is Key
First, examine your insured property to determine if it sustained hailstorm damage. Inspect both the interior and exterior of your home and car. Document any impairment with photographs or a video before making any insurance company-approved emergency repairs. The blemishes on, and value of, the items you report can be established in part by a comparison of photos you take before and after the storm. Hold onto items related to your claim until the adjuster appraises the damage and make copies of the sales receipts for any affected property.
Though you'll want to protect your property from additional damage, delay making any permanent repairs. For example, cover holes in a roof or windows to prevent wind and water from getting in. Make sure to keep the receipts for any materials you have to buy to make temporary repairs. When you file your claim, you'll submit the receipts to your insurance company and request reimbursement for those costs. Don’t discard anything until the items have been documented by the adjuster. If the damage to your home makes it uninhabitable and you must stay elsewhere until it's repaired, retain those receipts as well.
Read your homeowners policy and your auto insurance policy to make sure you understand the coverage they provide and to ensure you know how to ensure your claim is handled efficiently. Make note of the procedures you should follow to file a claim, including any time restrictions.
Contact your insurance company’s claims department or your insurance agent as quickly as possible, or within 48 hours of the hailstorm. Give their representative information regarding your claim, such your policy number, the date and time of the storm, and a description of your property damage. Record the number the insurance company will assign to your claim and document the name and phone number of anyone who works with you regarding your claim.
Request information from your insurer regarding the process you should follow to obtain a damage appraisal and ask for an estimate of the time required to process your claim. If you must obtain an appraisal, request a list of approved appraisers in your area. If not, contact friends and family for a recommendation. In either case, select at least two companies to provide estimates on your property damage. If appropriate, request information regarding the loss of use of your home if hail damage makes it impossible to stay there until it's repaired. Make note of the date by which your insurance company must forward claim forms to you as the time period varies from state to state. Upon receipt of the forms, complete them and return them to your insurer as quickly as possible.
Schedule appointments as soon as possible with the appraisers to obtain estimates for repairs to your property. Jot down their driver's license number and license plate. Cooperate with the adjuster as they evaluate the damages. Although the adjuster won’t be the one to approve your claim, their report will influence the settlement amount.
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