Living through an earthquake can be a scary experience. Once you check your family and pets to ensure everyone is in good shape, your next thoughts go to your property. It can be difficult to see the damage, so you may not even realize all of the things that could be wrong. As soon as the dust settles, you need to start getting things in order and call your insurance agent. Talk to them about any of the policies you have in place that may be affected, including your home and auto.
Call Your Insurer First
Call your insurance agent as soon as possible. This will allow them to get the process started on their end. Your agent will also be able to tell you what to look for when you are assessing your home for damage. This will give you a good idea of what questions you may want to ask the adjuster when they show up. Your insurance agent will guide you through the first steps of the process. Communication with them is key to getting things done in a timely fashion.
Prepare a Claim Log
Document everything in a claim log. Keep as many notes as possible when it comes to questionable damage. Make a list of everything you see so that you remember to show your adjuster. It’s also a good idea to create a timeline of when you first began noticing any damage. With an earthquake, aftershocks may continue to cause damage for a few days. Documenting when the damage occurs and how it progresses is important.
Meet with the Insurance Adjusters
Schedule a time to meet with your adjusters. They will need time to go over your property thoroughly to ensure all of the damage is fully documented. Ask as many questions as you need to fully understand the damage that has been caused. Adjusters can determine the extent of the damage and will turn in their report to your insurance agent so that a settlement can be offered. Before you accept any offer, you should always get a second opinion.
Get a Second Opinion
Talk to one or two contractors to determine the extent of the damage and get an estimate on how much it will cost to repair or rebuild. If you can find an independent adjuster to go over your property, you can compare the two reports. In most cases, they will be similar, but you never know when a mistake may be made that will end up costing you in the future.
Get a Few Estimates
Contractors are full of information and can provide you with valuable information for repairing or rebuilding your home. Try to get two estimates so you know approximately how much you will have to spend to get your home fixed. Let your insurance agent know that you are talking to a contractor. This will allow them a chance to offer you a fair settlement based on what local contractors are charging.
Negotiate Your Settlement
Once the adjusters turn in their reports, your insurance carrier will offer you a settlement. Based on your estimates, you should have a good idea of whether or not the settlement offer is fair. If it isn’t in line with what your contractors are going to charge, you may want to negotiate for a better settlement. Remember that there are deductibles in play, so your settlement may be somewhat short of the contractor’s price.
Hire Your Contractor
Once you have agreed on the settlement price and your insurance agent has given you the check, you can hire your contractor and begin to make the necessary repairs. It may take several weeks till you reach this point, so make sure that you have everything in order so the contractor can get started.
If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, this is a process you will want to learn. Contact us to find out more! At Jack Stone Insurance Agency, we are able to help our clients work their way through very difficult times. We have answers you will need when you are trying to figure out what your next steps should be.