Filing an insurance claim in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria can be difficult because insurers are swamped with claims from the island and mainland states that were hit by hurricanes and wildfires. The losses are worth billions of dollars, and many insurance providers are feeling pinched.
In order to increase your chances of your claims being approved, you will need to submit evidence to back up your damage claim. The evidence collection process starts with a claims journal in which you must document everything that has to do with your claim.
Documenting Storm Damage
Start your claims journal by noting the time and date of the loss, the cause of the loss, and any other details that may be relevant to your claim. If a disaster declaration was issued by the government, write this down as well as it may allow you to qualify for government assistance to help you repair, rebuild, and reopen.
Write down the details of every conversation you have with your insurance provider and its representatives. Also, take notes during conversations with insurance agents, service providers, adjusters, contractors, appraisers, insurance agents, and attorneys. Be sure to write down the name of the person to whom you are speaking, the person’s title, the name of the company, the date and time, and the details of the conversation. Your notes might be very beneficial to keep your claim moving through the process and also if issues arise in the future.
Take pictures and videos of your storm damage to include in your claims journal and to submit with your claim. Write a detailed list of the damage as you photograph and film. As you video, be sure to explain in detail what is being filmed. Be sure to name digital photos with detailed, accurate descriptions to help keep everything organized. Also, inventory the damage to vehicles, outdoor equipment, structures, inventory, landscaping, fencing, and crops. Also, don’t forget to document the damage to any stand-alone structures, vehicles, outdoor equipment, crops, inventory, and landscaping.
Create a detailed list of all items and inventory damaged by the storm. Be very detailed in the description of each item, including the date of purchase, purchase price, make, model, etc. The more detailed your description, the better your chance of recovering full value for the item.
Use a licensed and insured contractor or builder to provide estimates for structural damage, but get estimates from several builders so that you can ensure all damages are identified. However, be aware that many companies may knock on your door because some unscrupulous contractors prey on desperate home and business owners who suffered severe damage and destruction. They can disappear with your money and leave you with shoddy repairs, if they complete the work at all.
To document the loss of business revenue, you will need copies of current balance sheets, profit & loss statements, tax records, and bank records. Begin gathering these documents and making copies for the insurance company. Never provide originals to the insurance company or other company. Keep original documents with your business records.
Encountering Problems with a Hurricane Damage Claim
Even after gathering and submitting required documentation, some policyholders continue to have problems with their insurance providers. If your provider has denied your legitimate claims, unreasonably delayed your claim, or undervalued you claim so you don’t receive enough to complete the needed repairs and rebuilding, you have options.
Our Puerto Rico insurance claims attorneys are assisting home and business owners who have been impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. If you need help filing your claim, gathering the proper documentation, or negotiating a fair settlement, we can help. Insurance law is all we do, and we stand ready to fight for your rights and ensure you receive the damage settlement you deserve and need to get back to business.