NEW ORLEANS — Tropical Storm Cristobal brought heavy rain, storm surge, and flooding to Gulf states over the weekend. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) urges those who experienced damage to contact their insurer as soon as possible to begin the claims process and watch out for dishonest contractors who prey on storm victims in desperate need of repairs.
“If your home or business was damaged by Tropical Storm Cristobal, contact your insurer right away to get your claim started,” said Fred Bosse, vice president of state government relations for APCIA. “Keep in mind that flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowners policy, so you will need to contact your flood insurer to file a flood-related claim. However, water damage to a vehicle is typically covered under an auto policy’s comprehensive insurance coverage.”
After a storm, be alert for dishonest contractors who often go door-to-door seeking to take advantage of people in vulnerable situations. Before signing any contracts for repair work, talk to your insurer first to make sure the damage is covered.
“Your insurer can help you find a reputable and licensed contractor, or you can check with your local better business bureau for references,” added Bosse.
APCIA offers the following tips:
Filing a Claim
· Contact your insurer as soon as possible to report the damage. Have your policy number ready.
· Photograph or videotape the damage to share with your insurer and keep a copy for your records.
· If there are holes in your roof or your windows are broken, be sure to cover them as quickly as possible to prevent further damage.
· Save receipts of what you spend and submit them to your insurer for reimbursement.
· Do not throw away any damaged items until an adjuster visits your home. Keep in mind that due to COVID-19 and social distancing, you may collaborate with an adjuster via a video call instead of an in-person visit.
· Many standard homeowners and renters policies provide reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to damage. This provision helps pay for things like temporary housing, restaurant meals, overnight parking and laundry service. Check with your insurer or agent for a list of what your policy will cover.
After a Flood
· Shovel or scrape mud off floors, furniture, and walls before the mud dries. Then hose down the walls with clean water, starting from the ceiling.
· Major appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, can be washed and dried completely. In most cases, they will not be damaged unless they were operating at the time the water covered them.
· Diluted chlorine bleach can be used to clean household items, appliances, walls, and floors and will help control odors.
· Wood furniture should be dried outdoors, but not in direct sunlight. Remove drawers and other moving parts before they dry.
· Food utensils and equipment should be washed thoroughly and sterilized before using. Any food that is open and exposed to flood waters should be discarded.
APCIA insurance experts are available for interviews and to answer questions. Contact Sarah Revell for more information at 850-879-1853 or Sarah.Revell@apci.org.