Taking adequate steps to prevent and minimize damage to your home and injury to others is just as important as buying insurance to cover them. No insurance policy can compensate you for the pain, suffering or inconvenience brought about by a loss. Here are some tips to help you reduce your chance and amount of loss.
Take Precautions if the Damages Require You to Leave Your Home
Secure your property. Remove valuable items. Lock windows and doors. Advise your agent or company how and where you can be reached. Take these same precautions if you are forced to evacuate before a storm.
Make Emergency Repairs and Document Them
Your policy requires you to make reasonable emergency repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your home and its contents. Keep all receipts and take photographs of the damages, before and after emergency repairs, to submit with your claim.
Do not make extensive repairs before the claims adjuster arrives. Do not throw out damaged personal property. Make a list of everything you would like to show the adjuster when he or she arrives.
All homeowners policies in North Carolina require you to do the following when a loss occurs:
- Give prompt notice to your agent or company.
- If the loss is by theft, notify the police.
- If you have lost your credit card or ATM card notify the bank or credit card company.
- Protect your property from further loss or damage. If you make temporary repairs, keep a record of what you spend. This could include things like covering broken windows or putting a tarp on your roof.
- Give your agent a list of all damaged, destroyed or stolen property. Attach all bills, receipts and related information that would help document possession.
- Show the damaged property along with records and documents requested by your agent or company.
The insurance company will reimburse you on an actual cash value basis until you provide evidence that the items have been replaced. Receipts are the best source of evidence. Photographs and videotape recordings can be instrumental in providing the proof of ownership of products and replacement value. The insurance company will use your proof of loss statement to start determining the value of your claim. It is important to list all items on this statement. Keep a copy of all documents for your records.
An insurance adjuster will review the damage to your property and prepare an “estimate of loss” to repair or replace your home and personal items. The amount of money the insurance company offers will be based on this estimate, which should include any repairs necessary to restore your home to its condition prior to the damage.
Appraisal and Settlement
If you and your company cannot reach a settlement figure satisfactory to both of you, either may demand an appraisal of the loss. You or your company will choose a competent and disinterested appraiser within 20 days after receiving a written request from the other. The two appraisers will choose a competent and impartial umpire. The appraiser will separately set the amount of loss. If the appraisers submit a written report of agreement to the company, the amount agreed upon will be the amount of loss. If they fail to agree they will submit their differences to the umpire. A decision agreed to by any two will set the amount of loss. Each party must pay its own appraiser and bear the other expenses of the appraisal and umpire equally.
Repair of Your Home
You should hire the person or persons to make the repairs to your property. It is advisable to hire only licensed and insured contractors. You may want to consider using local service people, as they can be more easily reached should a problem develop.
Consumers can call the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors at (919) 571-4183 to find out if a contractor is licensed. Also, ask to have a certificate of insurance issued to you by the contractors insurance company.