The storm that hit us on October 29, 2012 was obviously none like I've seen in my lifetime. We have met with literally hundreds of our insurance customers over the last two months as well as many insurance company representatives and claims adjusters. There are many common elements that we have learned that I'd like to pass on to you in the event of another mega-storm:
Prepare Seven Days Worth of Provisions
If you live within close proximity to tidal waters and think you might be evacuated in the event of the storm, FEMA suggests that you have seven days worth of provisions available to you in a watertight container. This includes items like clothing, bottled water, and important documents (including your insurance policies). You should also have important phone numbers available to you. We have discovered many of our clients have insurance policies with multiple brokers, which means you will need the numbers of each broker to contact them regarding your claim.
"Get to Know" Your Insurance Policies
You should find the time to "get to know" the insurance policies you have purchased. We know insurance can be complicated and confusing, but it is very important to understand your coverage. Knowing more about your coverage will help you learn what is covered and what isn't in the event of various events (such as Hurricane Sandy or if someone falls on your property). If you would like, we will be glad to sit with you and explain all the provisions in the policies you have purchased from us.
We offer our clients an annual review, which is part of our April Newsletter. We review whether you made any additional property purchases, built any additions to your existing home, or made any other changes to your life that you would like covered by insurance (purchasing expensive jewelry, for example). Once a major storm is forecast, it may be too late to make changes to your existing insurance coverage.
Are the Names and Spelling on Your Policy Correct?
Do we have the correct name of the person (or mortgage company) who owns the real estate on the policy? Is the spelling of the named insured on the policy correct? Claim payments are presently being held up because there have been incorrect names on policies and incorrect mortgagee clauses listed. In many instances, a mortgage holder may not release claim checks if the names or spelling on the insurance policy does not match the names or spelling on the mortgage instrument.
Provide Us with Your Updated Contact Information
If we have another catastrophic storm and you have to evacuate or relocate while repairs are being made, please notify the people on your 'important phone numbers' list, including our office. In today's day and age it is vitally important that we maintain accurate records on how to reach you, and that we have multiple options by which to contact you (home phone, cell phone, email, phone number where you will be staying, etc.). We fully understand privacy issues, however, many times it is worthwhile to let us have your cell phone as well as your email address. We respect your privacy and will never give out that information to a third party.
If Your Situation Changes, Please Let Us Know
We have come across several unfortunate situations where a named insured or co-owner is deceased and their name remains on the insurance policy. If an owner or co-owner of your property has died, we ask you to please notify us so we can correct our records. Otherwise, a claim check could be made out to a deceased individual and proper recognition paperwork would need to be filed and a new check would need to be issued, which could delay a claim check being delivered. This also applies if you have gotten a divorce and your divorced spouse no longer has ownership or partial ownership of the property.
We hope you find these lessons helpful, and that you will contact us if you have any questions. We will be happy to go over your policy with you, to discuss additional coverage options, or to provide you with a free, no obligation insurance quote. You can give us a call at 877-329-3261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.