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Insurance Claims Require Evidence
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Make safety and documentation top priorities when returning home and cleaning up after a hurricane.
"Personal safety is most important," said Sharon Frazier, State Farm Insurance spokesperson, but documenting losses is also very important.
Once an area is determined safe, make temporary repairs to prevent further loss and list damages. Keep all receipts, including repairs, food, lodging and other expenses associated with the loss. Give these and the list of damages to the insurance adjuster when they arrive. Photos provide another good means of documenting losses.
"Don't dispose of damaged items until the adjuster has been on site and seen the damage," Frazier said.
Dr. Frances Graham, housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the insurance agent is the go-between for the individual making the claim and the company and should be kept informed.
"Adjusters will take a preliminary list of the problems you have noticed, but you will have a reasonable period of time to respond with other things you may have found," Graham said.
Even with additional adjusters brought to an area, it takes time for insurance companies to respond to all claims due to the widespread, extensive damage caused by a major hurricane.
"All claims have priority, but those that are severely damaged are the ones we're going to get our people on first," Frazier said. "Roof shingle and siding loss are the most common claims made to State Farm Insurance after a hurricane."
Before a crisis occurs, property owners should know what their policy covers and be sure they are properly insured. Flood insurance, important in hurricane prone areas, typically does not come with policies and must be purchased separately.
New this year to Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are hurricane deductibles of generally 2 percent of the property value. The price varies by property location and covers wind damage from a direct hit by a named hurricane.
"Larger deductibles translate into lower premiums," Frazier said.