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Tornado Five Steps to Follow If Your Suffer a Property Loss

With all the bad weather we have been having, many of our clients are wondering what they should do if they suffer a loss.  Here is a quick checklist:
1)  People before property!  Never put yourself or anyone else in jeopardy to secure or save property.  You have insurance so you won't have to risk your life to save that flat screen. 
2)  Protect what you can.  If you remove property from your residence to protect it from a loss it is covered.  Most insurance policies will provide "All Risk Coverage" for property that has been removed from the insured residence for the purpose of protecting it from loss for 30 days.
3)  Mitigate the damage:  Act as if you don't have insurance to cover the loss.  Call emergence clean up crews, plumbers or other contractors to prevent things from getting worse.  Don't leave the damage for the adjuster to see because he or she may not be there for a few days.  Especially in cases where there is water damage.  You want to get the water out as soon as you can.  Take pictures of the loss then start the clean up.
4)  Call your agent or your company.  If you have an agent, you can probably get a referral to a local contractor to help you.  Many agents can file claims on behalf of their clients which will expedite the process.  If you don't have an agent, you will need to call the 800 number or go on line to report your claim.  Be sure to report the claim as soon as you can.   There is no benefit is waiting.  In fact, if you wait you may jeopardize your coverage for this loss.
5)  Adjust your coverage:  Following a major loss you may need to adjust your coverage.  It is a good time to arrange a meeting with your agent so you can update your policies. 

Do your best to preserve your property.  Just because something is damaged does not mean it will be covered or that it will be replaced.  Document everything with pictures and whatever notes you can take.  Many people can be overwhelmed following a big loss and will not claim all of their damages.  Work with your agent and your adjuster.  They really do want to make you whole again.  Often, if you ask questions about how coverage applies rather than demanding that coverage apply your experience will be much better.
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