Seven Mistakes to Avoid With Your Hurricane Sandy Claim

Tropical Storm Debby caused widespread wind, water, roof and flood damage along the New York, New Jersey shore including Long Island and will require that many residential and commercial policyholders submit an insurance claim. The public adjusters at Tutwiler & Associates urge policyholders to take the proper steps to protect their claim and avoid settlement problems.

  • Do not go back into your home or mitigate damage until you know it’s safe to do so. If returning to your home after a power outage, do not turn on the power right away, especially if your home has been flooded by broken water pipes. Have an electrician check the dwelling first.
  • Don’t make permanent repairs until you have documented the damage and the insurance adjuster has inspected your property. And don’t throw away damaged materials. While you are expected to take steps to prevent additional damage, we often see policyholders rush to “repair” the property only to bring the actual damages into question.  
  • Don’t sign over your claim to a contractor or restoration company. Carefully review the restoration contract and do not authorize any repair work until you get approval from your insurance carrier or you may find yourself saddled with a big bill. You can have a restoration company clean-up the immediate mess but are not required to have them also do the repair work. Make sure you maintain control of your insurance payment. 
  • Don’t feel forced to use the contractors your insurance company recommends. Get independent estimates for the repair work. It’s your property and you should control who does the work and the quality of the work. Sometimes insurers hire contractors based on cost only and you may not get the quality restoration work you require. 
  • Don’t allow restoration companies to cart out your belongings without a detailed itemized list of belongings. Expect to be charged storage fees. Remember that some items can be restored while others that could harbor mold need to be replaced and your claim needs to reflect that.
  • Don’t allow any work to be done unless you have some approval from you insurance carrier. They may refuse to pay the claim without prior approval. Make sure you keep everything in writing.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your insurance company for an advanced payment on any undisputed amounts of the claim until an agreement can be reached on the rest of your claim. This will help you get repairs started and avoid heavy out-of-pocket expenses. Take extensive photographs of all the damage, and keep all your receipts and documents, as well as records of conversations with the insurance company. 

Be proactive but patient and remember that this is a process and things may not happen as fast as you’d like. Make sure to hire the right professionals to help document the loss and damage. If you feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the process or feel your insurance company is not offering a fair settlement, consider hiring a public insurance adjuster to help with your claim. Public adjusters are typically compensated on a percentage of your recovery. In disaster situations it is typically no more than 10%. 

If you have questions regarding any property insurance related issues caused by these storms please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our insurance claim experts. As always, the professional public insurance adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates are here to help with any questions you may have. Please visit www.PublicAdjuster.com to stay updated on the insurance claims process and tips for your insurance claim.