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What to do after a damaging spring storm

1. Call your insurance rep

THE SOONER YOU ACT THE BETTER

Contact your insurance rep or insurer as soon as you can. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy if possible. Write down the adjuster’s name, phone number and work schedule as soon as you have those details.

2. Protect your property

YOU MAY BE ABLE TO PREVENT FURTHER DAMAGE.

Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could mean boarding up windows and salvaging undamaged items. Your insurance company can tell you what they will pay for regarding protection.

3. Protect yourself

YOUR SAFETY IS MOST IMPORTANT.

Always be careful when entering a damaged building. If there is serious structural damage, contact local officials before entering. Report downed power lines or gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has been flooded.

4. Keep damaged items

YOUR CLAIM WILL BE EASIER TO PROCESS.

Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited, and photograph or record the damage to document your claim.

5. Keep your receipts

EASE THE CLAIMS PROCESS WITH GOOD RECORD-KEEPING.

If damage to your home is severe enough that you need to relocate, keep records and receipts for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements.

6. Return claim forms

SOME PAPERWORK IS VITAL TO PROCESSING YOUR CLAIM.

After your insurance company has been notified of your claim, they must send you the necessary claim forms within a certain number of days (time period varies by state). Fill out and return the forms as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanation.

*Adjusters may tell business owners to hire a professional cleaning service

7. Clean up safely

SAFETY REMAINS A PRIORITY THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS.

When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear and gloves if available.

Beware of debris. Storms with extensive rain and high winds can cause severe damage and create hazardous conditions such as fallen trees and other types of dangerous debris, including downed power lines, broken glass, small pieces of buildings, commercial signs, and road signs. After the storm passes, residents should be extremely careful as they sort through the wreckage to assess the damage.

Handle power outages safely. Power outages are common after storms and many residents and businesses rely on backup generators until power can be restored. While useful, generators also pose certain risks, including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and even injury or death. Before using a generator, it’s important to understand these risks and the necessary precautions for safe operation.

IBHS© Reproduced with the kind permission of the Institute for Business and Home Safety.