Are your insurance documents in order and in a safe place? Do you have a post-storm contact for your insurance company? Have you taken photos of your property and contents yet?
With Hurricane Irma threatening, both individuals and businesses need to get their insurance information in order in case they need to make a claim, said insurance lawyer Meghan C. Moore of the law firm Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, who is based in Miami.
Moore recommends these steps before and after the storm:
BEFORE THE STORM
▪ Locate and review your insurance policies. Confirm that it includes information on how to make a claim. If it is not, contact your insurance agent now so you have that information handy. Keep your policies and contact numbers in a safe, dry place.
▪ Take pictures or videos of the property and contents. This proof may be valuable later.
▪ Collect and store important documents.
For homeowners and renters, this may include receipts for personal property/contents and any reports/documents showing the property was in good condition and maintained prior to the storm.
In addition to proof of property and contents, business owners also need records related to revenues, expenses and profits that could be pertinent to business-interruption policies.
All records, whether paper or electronic, should be maintained in a safe, dry place accessible from a location outside the area which could be potentially impacted by the storm.
▪ Create a post-storm contact sheet. Include the contact information for the individual or entity designated by your insurance company to receive notice of claims, your agent/broker, and companies or individuals to perform dry-out and/or emergency repairs quickly after a storm, (Businesses should keep at least one on retainer).
[READ MORE: Insurers aren’t writing policies ahead of Irma]
AFTER THE STORM
▪ Insurance policies all require prompt or immediate notice of loss. Those should go to both the insurance company and the agent/broker.
▪ Insurance policies contain general conditions that may require proof of loss. These requirements may be time-sensitive. Be aware of and comply with them.
▪ When you can do so safely, photograph and record — everything
▪ Mitigate loss – immediately. An insurer can deny coverage for damages that could have been prevented by mitigation. Maintain records of all expenses incurred by you in mitigating damage (e.g., dry-out expenses). If possible, notify your insurer in writing prior to mitigating the loss or undertaking emergency repairs.
▪ Keep a diary of all significant events during the recovery process. Who inspected what and when? What did they say? Were emergency repairs performed, and if so, who performed them?
▪ Maintain records of all expenses incurred as a result of the storm. Include invoices and payments. Homeowners should keep receipts of additional living expenses, such as hotel or rental expenses. Businesses should review their coverages, including those pertinent to business interruption, to ensure they retain relevant information and documents.
Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg