The high winds, torrential rain, and storm surge from Hurricane Ida is damaging many homes and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, and even parts of Texas. If you are facing property loss and the resulting insurance claims, there are several things to keep in mind.
After the rains has subsided and the waters have recessed, you will need to begin the process of reporting your claim to your insurance agent and your insurance carrier. It is important to stay engaged with your agent and the insurance company adjuster as you work through the claim adjustment process.
The following checklist will assist you in gathering the necessary information your insurance carrier will require in order to process your claim in a timely manner.
- Document your damage with photos or videos as soon as possible.
- Protect your property from further damage and make temporary repairs, if possible. Your policy requires you to make every effort to protect the property from suffering additional damage but do not begin permanent repairs. This may mean placing a tarp over the roof or boarding up broken windows and doors.
- If the property is structurally unsound or unsafe you must report this to your local police and fire department.
- Contact a professional and capable mitigation company to abate any water and/or smoke damage. Your insurance agent will be able to recommend a resource for you.
- Secure the property as necessary.
- Maintain a record of all expenses incurred in protecting the property and provide this information to your insurance adjuster.
- Separate damaged from undamaged business personal property if at all possible. Do not discard of any damaged property as your insurance adjuster will want to inspect these items.
- Prepare an inventory of the damaged Business Personal Property. Provide a detailed description of the damaged items, list the quantity and your estimated value of the damaged items. Include any available bills, receipts, appraisals and any related documents that will support your valuation.
- Do not dispose of the damaged property until your claims adjuster approves of the disposal. The adjuster will need to inspect the property and determine if there is any salvage value for the items.
- Notify your vendors and suppliers about your situation and provide them an update as to when to resume service.
- Be prepared to provide additional information requested by your claims adjuster.
A majority of the property damage will be caused by flooding. Flood damage is often excluded by most property insurance policies, so you will want to carefully review your particular policy with your agent to determine if Flood is a covered cause of loss. If your property policy affords flood coverage, follow the guide above to manage your claim with your insurance carrier.
If you have purchased a Flood Insurance Policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), FEMA has a specific Flood Claims Process outlined on their website: https://www.fema.gov/nfip-file-your-claim
To successfully navigate the property claims process, it is vital that you work closely with your insurance agent and the insurance adjuster assigned by your insurance carrier.
The Small Business Administration has an SBA LOAN PROGRAM for homeowners and businesses impacted by natural disasters. These long term, low interest loans can help you get re-established. Apply here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
The havoc wreaked by the hurricane is an important reminder to business owners that unexpected loss and damage can occur at any time, particularly by external forces that can’t be controlled. Having an emergency plan in place to combat unexpected loss and damage is key to remaining successful in the face of disaster.
Be sure to be in contact with your insurance agent to review your coverage forms. Your insurance program may include enhancement endorsements that provide additional limits of insurance that can be applied to your loss, so ask your insurance agent to review these coverage terms with you as well.
Higginbotham is the largest independent insurance agency in Texas and is the TRA’s preferred partner for restaurant property and casualty insurance. If you are not yet working with an agent or would like a second opinion on your current coverage you can learn more about their program at https://info.higginbotham.net/en-us/texas-restaurant-association-member-insurance. Here are some additional links for you to review:
- Coverage Insights: Making a Flood Claim
- Safety Matters: Flood Cleanup Hazards
- Risk Insights: Restoring Your Business After a Flood
- Hurricane Recovery Checklist
- Health Concerns Following a Hurricane or Flood