Hurricane Florence brought life-threatening storm surges, hurricane-force winds and catastrophic flooding to the southeastern United States, leaving North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia all in a state of emergency. The National Hurricane Center predicted winds up to 100mph in some areas as the category 1 storm made landfall. If you live in an area affected by Hurricane Florence, you may have to make an insurance claim to repair damages to your home or car.
If you have damage, consider these helpful tips when filing a Hurricane Florence insurance claim.
1. Survey the damage and report a claim
You may not be able to return to your property for a while due to unsafe conditions and recovery efforts. Once officials have announced you can return home, do so with extreme caution as Hurricane Florence may have made roads difficult for travel in your area. Once you reach your property after the storm, survey the damage to your car and home and take photos of all damage before moving any debris.
Report your claim to your insurance company as soon as possible. After hurricanes, insurance companies receive a large volume of claims and usually handle them on a first come, first serve basis. Make sure you keep your claims number handy after you file it so you can use it for reference in all communications with your insurance company. Many insurance companies have made the process of reporting a claim much easier — if you have access to the Internet, check your insurance companies website for a quick way to submit your claim. You can also report a claim by calling your insurance company or agent.
2. Understand your insurance policy
While some hurricane damage may be covered by your standard homeowners policy, unfortunately flood damage from Hurricane Florence will only be covered if you have flood insurance. Hurricane Florence brought catastrophic flooding along the coastal areas, but it also threatened inland areas due to the high volume of rain. Even if you don’t have flood insurance, you should still contact your insurer about your damages.
If your car is damaged from things such as debris, a downed tree, or flooding, your damages should be covered if you purchased comprehensive coverage on your car insurance. You’ll be responsible for your deductible before your insurance coverage kicks in.
3. Make temporary repairs to your home
State Farm is the most popular homeowners insurance company in the Carolinas with 28.6 percent of people having a policy with State Farm in North Carolina and 21.2 percent in South Carolina. State Farm has encouraged people to make temporary repairs to their homes when it is safe to do so. However, you should only make necessary temporary repairs to protect your home from any more damage and leave other damages as is for the adjuster to see. Make sure to save all receipts for the cost of your temporary repairs.
Given the large number of claims in the area, it may take a while for an insurance adjuster to reach your home to assess your damage. State Farm has also announced on their Twitter profile that its Catastrophic Response team is preparing to help those policyholders affected by Hurricane Florence damage.
If your home isn’t livable, make arrangements to stay elsewhere and save your receipts. Most homeowners insurance policies will cover the cost of needing to stay somewhere else if your home suffers damage from a covered peril.
4. Watch out for scams!
Unfortunately, scammers often take advantage of hurricane situations — and Hurricane Florence likely won’t be any different. Watch out for anyone that may come to your house claiming to be an insurance adjuster or contractor — make sure they are who they say they are and who you expected. Also beware of suspicious calls you may get that are seeking insurance payment or personal information.
Don’t pay cash for any of your repairs and only deal with licensed adjusters and companies. Contact your state’s Department of Insurance if you are suspicious of fraud — the Department of Insurance can check licenses. The North Carolina department of insurance can be found here and the South Carolina Department of Insurance can be found here.
Around 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia were under mandatory or voluntary evacuations of their homes. Hurricane Florence was a massive storm, nearly 400 miles in diameter, meaning a large number of homes and businesses were affected by this storm. The recovery process may be a lengthy one as insurance companies are dealing with large amounts of claims. While you wait for repairs to be made from your Hurricane Florence claim, make sure you and your family are safe and take advantage of resources available.
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