Hurricanes are stressful. Before the storm, there is a ton of storm preparation
to do. During the storm, you have to keep your family safe. But even after the storm is over, the aftermath can still have a major impact on you, your home and your family. As you assess the damage and begin cleanup, there are other steps you can take to help make your recovery experience easier to manage. This guide can help you navigate through what to do after a storm to protect your finances and stay safe.
How to Handle Insurance after a Storm
When you begin the insurance process after a hurricane, keep in mind that thousands of people may be in the same situation as you. It may take some time for your claim to be processed, so try to be patient.
Here is some advice on how to handle insurance after a storm:
- File your claim online or over the phone directly with your insurance carrier
- The order of when your claim will be handled is based on how severe the damage was, beginning with uninhabitable homes and moving down to the homes with the lightest damage
- If you are unsure whether or not you have a claim, file it anyway because weather-related claims won’t raise your premiums
- If your home was damaged due to rising water, flood insurance is needed to file a claim
- Check your insurance policy to see if there is a separate deductible for wind-related or hurricane-related damage
- Do not sign any form unless it is from your specific insurance adjuster
Be Careful to Avoid Post-Storm Scams
Unfortunately, disasters tend to bring out the scammers. That’s the reason it’s important to avoid signing any forms that are not directly from your insurance adjuster because it could lead to negative consequences. Sometimes a third party will try to get you to sign an Assignment of Benefits (AOB). This is a legally binding agreement that transfers the rights to your insurance claim to the third party. Unfortunately, contractors or restoration companies sometimes misuse this agreement.
Contact Your Creditors if You’re Having Trouble with Payments
Sometimes during an emergency, you may end up dipping into your savings or maxing out your credit cards to cover your extra hurricane-related costs. If you are in a situation where your emergency costs are making it difficult to pay your bills, contact your creditors right away. Don’t miss a loan, mortgage or credit card payment without speaking to your creditors first. If you skip a payment, you may be liable for the appropriate penalties. However, if you reach out to your creditors and explain the situation, you may be able to work together to come up with a solution.
If your home is without power or you’ve suffered damages during the hurricane, you may need some help. Check out these resources for assistance and more:
- Residents who sustained losses can apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800.621.3362 (FEMA) or 800.462.7585 (TTY)
- Apply for assistance and more from FEMA
- Find out if your area has been declared for Individual Assistance
Note: This article is informational only. When making purchasing decisions, conduct your own research.