Here’s what you need to know and do after a strong storm damages your home. The following information was provided by the Insurance Commissioner of Georgia, Ralph Hudgens.

  • File your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
  • Be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file a claim. Keep a diary of all conversations with insurance companies, creditors or relief agencies.
  • Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you can’t live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don’t have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage.
  • Maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect.
  • Ask the adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • Be wary of contractors who demand upfront payment before work is initiated or payment in full before work is completed. If the contractor needs payment to buy supplies, go with the contractor and pay the supplier directly.
  • Get more than one bid. Ask for at least three references. Check with the Better Business Bureau about the contractor. Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance, and bonding. Record the license plate number and driver’s license number of the contractor.
  • If you can’t cover all of your expenses, contact your creditors to negotiate a payment plan.
  • If there is a disagreement about a claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently.
  • If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement.
  • If you believe you have been treated unfairly in getting a claim paid, please contact us toll-free at 800-656-2298 or online at www.oci.ga.gov

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