Suppose your property faces damages, either from negligence, criminal activities, or unavoidable natural disasters- and you are struggling with your insurance or to recover damages. In that case, you will need to contact a property damage lawyer.
To ensure you can claim your insurance and recover damages, follow these basic steps, recommended by property damage attorneys and insurance experts;
- Photograph and Video Record
“When your property suffers damage, you should immediately photograph and video record the damage. Presuming you have notice of impending damage (i.e., a hurricane), you should photograph and video your property prior to the storm.” (John Tolley)
- Call an Attorney
“In addition to collecting this evidence, you should call an attorney or a public adjuster. In many states, attorneys can adjust a claim for you. The reason I recommend going this route is as soon as you make a claim, the insurance carrier will assign desk adjusters and field adjusters. These people are usually very experienced and are professionals at what they do. Keep in mind the insurance company is not in the business of paying claims. Contrary to what they would have you believe these professionals are looking for every way to avoid extending coverage.
“Many times I get clients who tell me but the field adjuster said he was going to get this covered, only to find out that he/she recommended a full denial of insurance benefits. It is so important to have an advocate on your side from the start. We can hold them accountable and create record evidence that we can use later on in litigation if necessary.”
John Tolley, an attorney practicing primarily home and commercial property damage insurance claims.
- Take Stock of the Damage
“The first thing to do when you experience property damage is to take stock of the damage. Make note of what’s damaged, where, and how bad the damage is. It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the damage for proof. Then you will want to file an insurance claim to hopefully get compensated for the damage.”
Omid Semino, the Founder and CEO of Diamond Mansion
- Take Pictures Before And After Any Repairs Are Made To Your Home
“It doesn’t matter if it’s just paint or something major; take pictures before any repairs are made because if something goes wrong, you have proof that someone else’s negligence damaged the home. If your insurance company denies your claim, then you might want to speak to an attorney about suing the other person who damaged your home.” (Kristina Chrissimos)
- Insurance Claims
“Know your insurance company’s procedure for filing a claim, how long it takes to process claims, and their protocol for making payments; know what documentation they require! Get everything in writing if you are involved in an accident or suffer property damage.” (Kristina Chrissimos)
- Home Inventory
“If you are worried about the cost of fixing your home after an accident or disaster (such as fire, water damage, or storm damage), make an inventory of your possessions. Make sure to take pictures and write down serial numbers and what each item is worth. If you don’t have insurance, then this can help you make an inventory for your loss. The insurance company will often distinguish between what was lost and what was salvaged but not necessarily.” (Kristina Chrissimos)
- Swapping Insurance Policies
“It is important to make sure you have the right type of insurance. You don’t want to file a claim for something that is not covered by your policy. In addition, you might be paying more than necessary if you do not have the proper coverage for your situation. It is easy to compare multiple rates on different plans online or ask around and see if any friends or family have a good deal.”
Kristina Chrissimos, CEO Vogue Homes
- Head for Insurance Claims
“The very first thing after encountering property damage is to head for the insurance claims. Make sure you have all the legal documents at hand and proper reasons with their respective pieces of evidence to make your claim stronger. This will help you receive a good amount.” (Scott Cam)
- File an FIR In case of Criminal Activity
“If it is a matter of crime, do not forget to file an FIR with the police. This will be an important document for the claims as well. Informing the police can even help you get the compensation and catch the person responsible for it all.”
Scott Cam, CEO Blueprint Homes
Finally- Your Damage Claim Checklist!
“Here are things you should do when your property is damaged:
- Document the damage with photos and videos.
- Contact your insurance company and document with emails, letters, or notes every communication.
- Read and understand your insurance policy: what’s covered, what’s not, and why.
- Have someone unaffiliated with your insurance company determine the scope and extent of your damage.
- Make a claim with your insurance company and ensure they provide a written response stating that the claim is covered or, if not covered, why.
- Determine if someone else is at fault and, if so, contact their insurance or an attorney who handles property damage claims.”
Evan W. Walker, Esq. California Attorney whose practice is devoted to serious personal injury claims and catastrophic property damage claims; The Law Office of Evan W. Walker