How to Maximize Insurance Benefits After a Disaster

A disaster can devastate your home, your business, and your entire life. Insurance is meant to help in times like these, but it will not always cover the full cost of the damages you have incurred. There are certain steps you can take to maximize your insurance benefits, and give you the best chance at fully rebuilding after disaster strikes.

Filing an insurance claim form

Understand Your Coverage

It can not be overstated how important it is for you to understand exactly what your insurance policy covers. Many people do not receive the maximum insurance benefits they are entitled to, simply because they don’t fully understand their coverage. For this reason, you should read over your policy and make sure it covers everything you need it to. You can also call your insurance company with any questions.

In general you want to make sure your policy includes:

  • The cost to repair or replace damaged property.
  • Living expenses incurred due to loss of use.
  • Personal liability.
  • The cost of medical payments to others.

Know the Limits to Your Insurance Coverage

It is just as important, if not more so, to know what your insurance does not cover. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you believe your insurance will take care of everything, and instead discover you’re on your own.

You should be aware of what kinds of disasters are not covered under your policy. For example you may not have flood coverage if you don’t live near the water, as it may seem like a waste of money, but you will want to be prepared to take extra precautions if there is an unexpected flood.

You should also be aware of the amount you would receive if your house was completely destroyed. You want to make sure your house is covered for how much it would cost to rebuild it, not its market value, which can be significantly less.

Maintain an Inventory

When disaster strikes, it will be much easier to receive maximum insurance benefits, if you maintain an inventory. This inventory should be a comprehensive and up-to-date list of every item of value in your home or business. Any item that you would want covered in case of disaster, should be included in the inventory.

In the aftermath of a disaster, such as a hurricane or building fire, it can be extremely difficult to remember every little thing that was in your home or business. This is where the inventory comes in. When your insurance company asks what was damaged or destroyed, you can simply check your inventory list.

Assess Your Damage

To receive the maximum benefits you are entitled to, a full assessment of damage must be done. You want this assessment to be as detailed as possible to ensure it covers all damage done by the disaster. No matter how small something may seem, it is important to report it in your insurance claim.

In a disaster, such as a hurricane, little pieces of damage are everywhere, and while they might not seem worth claiming, they can add up to thousands of dollars.

Hire a Private Insurance Adjuster

A little known step in maximizing your benefits is hiring a private insurance adjuster. This is just like the adjuster who works for your insurance company, but with one massive difference, the private adjuster works for you. In exchange for a small percent of your insurance payout, a private insurance adjuster will help to make sure you get the largest payout possible.

Private adjusters are experts, knowing all of the ins and outs of insurance policies. The amount you pay them will oftentimes be much less than the amount of extra money they obtain from the insurance company.

Prepare for Common Disasters

DIsaster can strike anywhere, and it’s smart to be prepared when it does. Regardless of what disasters your area is prone to, you should always have an emergency kit ready in your home. This will help you stay safe and healthy, regardless of the situation. However, depending on where you live, you may want to take extra precautions if your area is prone to a specific disaster.

Hurricane Tips

  • Remove any large items from your yard, as high winds could blow them into your house, causing damage.
  • Have bottled water on hand, as hurricanes often lead to a disruption in water service.
  • Have candles and flashlights on hand, as hurricanes often cause power outages.

Flood Tips

  • Have an evacuation plan, as it may be impossible to ride out a flood in your home.
  • Elevate utilities, such as electrical boxes, to prevent damage in a flood.
  • Have an area on an upper floor available to store valuables in case of a flood.

Wildfire Tips

  • Have multiple evacuation routes, as roads can become impassable due to fire.
  • Have a plan for what to do with pets and livestock.
  • Have at least 100 feet of space between your home and any trees or brush.

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