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Fire, flood, and earthquake. These are just a few natural disasters that are common in California. Losing your home and all your possessions in a natural disaster can be devastating. In this article, we’re going to provide a few tips on how to navigate an insurance claim after a natural disaster.

The world was hit with a slew of extremely expensive natural disasters in 2017, with an estimated total loss of more than $306 billion. That’s almost twice as much as the $188 billion natural disasters cost in 2016.  Last year is officially the third most expensive year for global insurances losses on record, according to insurance firm Swiss Re. With hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined with the California wildfires, U.S. losses alone total more than $100 billion.

When you become a victim of a major loss due to manmade or natural disasters, your battle has just begun. Managing the damage and financial losses is a daunting task. Here are a few tips on how to navigate an insurance claim after a natural disaster:

File a claim

If you or your businesses have suffered a loss as a result of a natural disaster, you need to call your insurance agent immediately. Submit a claim to your insurance carrier as soon as possible. But it’s important to speak with your broker first to ensure your claim moves smoothly.

At Brashears Insurance, our expert agents can help you interpret your policies and coverages and help you decide the on the best path for you. If you delay filing a claim for any reason, you or your business could pay. It’s important to know that during losses such as natural disasters, hundreds, if not thousands, of people are impacted. This can slow the claims process dramatically. If you want to ensure your claim is processed quickly, time is of the essence.

You will also want to take precautions to protect your home or business against any further damage until repairs can be completed. This is important because some insurance companies may not pay for post-disaster damages that are not directly related to said disaster.

Select a contractor to rebuild

If your loss is related to a business, you have an important question to ask: do you remain open while the business is being repaired or restored or do you close entirely until the work is done?

You have options:

  1. Remain open
  2. Close the business or a portion of the business
  3. Relocate to a temporary location

Likewise, when there is major damage to your home, a decision to stay or relocate temporarily must be made as soon as possible. Once you understand the full extent of all the damages, you can start the rebuilding process. The first step is to select a contractor who can get the job done on time and on budget.

Here are some tips for selecting the right contractor:

  • Get a recommendation from your local insurance agent. When you choose a contractor that has an existing relationship with your insurance broker or carrier, you can curb unforeseen issues, including fraud.
  • Talk to friends, neighbors and other business owners. Check out peer- and customer-review sites, such as HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List.
  • Use a contractor you’re familiar with and avoid out-of-town or unknown contractors. Fraud rates spike immediately following natural disasters.
  • Check the state licensing department to make sure the contractor is legit and has kept up on certifications.

Navigate an insurance claim: Ask lots of questions

Finally, you’re want to make sure you know exactly what’s happening at every stage. The claims process can be tricky, so ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. Some questions to consider include:

  1. Which policy(s) are covering which damages?
  2. How much loss does my policy cover?
  3. What’s my deductible?
  4. Can my deductible be waived?
  5. Does my policy cover travel expenses related to evacuations?
  6. Does my policy cover relocation expenses?
  7. Does my policy cover debris clean up and/or removal?
  8. Am I covered for lost income during a business interruption?
  9. How quickly can I expect claims to be approved/paid?

Before you file a claim, speak with your Brashears Insurance agent today. For more information, or to find out if you’re properly covered in the event of a natural disaster, call us today at (805) 564-7645.