Tornado Loss: How to Deal w/Adjusters, Contractors, & Tenants...Notes from our March 9th,2020 Meetup
Be mindful of your residents and make sure everyone is safe and has made it through the storm. If there is significant damage to the property it may be necessary to ask the residents to vacate the property for their safety. Be ready to provide residents with information on emergency shelters and housing in the area.
· Call your insurance agent or company to report your claim. Ask what you need to do to make the claim, and then send notice of the claim in writing, either by mail or email. A written description of the incident and possible damages will work. Be sure to write down your claim number.
· Read your insurance policy. Find out what it covers. You have to read the whole policy to find out what is covered under your policy. Mark (highlight) portions of the policy that you don’t understand, and ask your insurance agent to explain them. If you have lost your policy in the storm or simply can’t find it, ask your insurance agent to send you a copy.
· If the property is inhabitable due to storm damage, ask your insurance agent if your policy pays for lost income while the property is being repaired. If your property was completely destroyed, it could take six months or more to rebuild it. That is a long time to go without the rental income.
· Take the time to record the damage. Record the damage, the tree on the roof, the ceiling in the living room floor, the rain-soaked mattresses, furniture and so on. Record as much as possible. Once your property is cleaned up, it will be easier for you to explain to the insurance company exactly what kind of damage you had if you have pictures. Do this even if the insurance adjuster comes out immediately to view the damage. Insurance companies often change adjusters during the life of a claim. You cannot rely on the adjusters to adequately document your damage.
· Prepare a written Inventory of the damage to the building and contents. Write down everything you think is damaged with the building and give that inventory list to the insurance adjuster. Make a list of everything that was damaged inside the building. Again, take pictures of everything. Do not throw anything away before the adjuster has a chance to see it.
· Communicate everything in writing. If you have a telephone call or conversation with the adjuster, follow up with email to confirm or verify the conversation. Always email the insurance company to get the status on your claim.
· Keep a timeline /Paper Trail regarding what happens with your claim. Write down dates & times of each contact with the insurance company, the name of the person you spoke with & what was discussed. Also note the date each time an adjuster comes to your property or contacts you & get the name of the adjuster, and write down exactly what was discussed and/or agreed upon. Follow with email.
· Take immediate action to remedy any condition on your property which could lead to further damage. For instance, if you have a hole in your roof, put a tarp over it until you can make permanent repairs. Insurance policies generally require the policyholder to mitigate his damages. Discuss with your insurance adjuster whether the policy will pay for temporary repairs.
· Provide the insurance company with the documentation it requests. Insurance policies require the policyholder to cooperate with the investigation of the claim, which includes producing certain documents or papers on request. If the policyholder fails to produce the requested documents, the insurance company may be able to refuse to pay the insurance claim on that basis. Sometimes the insurance company may request a “proof of loss,” which is a sworn statement setting out the amount of the loss
· Have your Contractor meet with you & the insurance adjuster. Many adjusters will be happy to meet jointly with you & your contractor of choice. Your contractor will be a pretty good representative for you to be knowledgeable & ask about certain damages you may not see. If you do not have a contractor be open & ask the adjuster if they have any recommendations.