Ann A. Berry | 10/12/2005 2:13:44 AM
As hurricane evacuees are allowed to return to their homes, LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Ann Berry makes several recommendations for filing insurance claims.
"The first thing to do is contact your insurance agent, if you haven’t already done so," Berry stresses. If you don’t know how to contact your insurance agent, the Louisiana Department of Insurance has a list of the major insurance companies operating in Louisiana along with their phone numbers on its Web site, www.ldi.state.la.us. If you can’t reach your company or if you have problems with your claim, contact the department at 800.259.5300 or 225.342.5900.
Berry recommends taking several additional steps.
• Follow up your call with a letter detailing the problem. Keep a copy of the letter.
• Begin cleanup and salvage as soon as possible. Don't wait for the insurance agent or adjuster. But do take photos or video BEFORE any cleanup for use as an inventory.
• Keep damaged materials for proof of loss.
• Leave phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached when the insurance adjuster arrives.
• The adjuster will assess home damages. Owner should sign proof of loss statement. Additional damages can be added when found.
• If your property has been looted, contact the police immediately. Tell them what was stolen. This report may be needed to file an insurance claim for theft, distinct from the disaster damage claim.
• Protect your property from further damage by making temporary repairs. Save receipts for reimbursement. If your home is uninhabitable, save all receipts relating to your temporary lodging and food.
• Make a detailed list of damaged articles, and provide any other information the adjuster requests to process your claim. Keep a copy of all information for your own records.
• Review the settlement steps outlined in your policy. If you're dissatisfied with the proposed settlement offer, explain your position. If there's a significant difference between what the insurance company offers and what you believe you're entitled to, you may wish to submit the dispute to arbitration.
For information on related hurricane recovery topics, click on the links at the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.