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Are you prepared after a loss?

Damaged_building In light of our recent, major catastrophic events that have occurred with tornadoes, flooding and hurricane Gustav, you not only have to be prepared before the loss happens, you need to be prepared after the loss happens.

For small businesses, many claims will be due to loss of business income. Good record keeping will help you recreate your records and have the information available to submit to your claims representative. So what else can you do?

Well, the Insurance Information Institute offers the following suggestions:

  • Contact your insurance company or agent. Your insurance company will have representatives available to take your information and get your claim assigned to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the damage.  Your agent can also report the loss to your insurance company or provide you with the appropriate claim contact information.  If you have had to evacuate, make sure to give your  insurance representative or agent a telephone number where you can be reached. 
  • Take photos of the damaged areas. These will help you with the claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
  • Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Be sure to make two copies—one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should include a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
  • Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.
  • Make temporary repairs if you are able to access your property. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save receipts for supplies and materials you purchase. Your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs. (This is called mitigating your damages and it is something you must do to protect it from further harm.)
  • Get a detailed estimate for permanent repairs from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.

Now, you might be thinking that you are doing all of the work with a list like this. However, many insurance companies put together special phone lines for victims to call in order to help expedite their claim process and they often dispatch CAT Teams to assess the damage  and provide extra support for their local offices.

Depending on the damages, they may even set up additional drive-in locations that can expedite many claims for customers.

Analysts predict that the damage from Gustav appears to be lower than previously expected. So, not to worry right? Well, there is still some concern. Even though this particular loss maybe less than expected, catastrophe losses add up. With four more storms on the horizon – we need to be prepared.

And if you think you've survived the summer storms - remember that winter is right around the corner!

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