Call your insurance agent or broker immediately and ask them for their advice before deciding to report a claim. If you call your insurance company directly, they will have the conversation documented and perhaps you are only looking for advice and are still undecided so make that call after you know more.
Only you can decide whether or not you should report a claim but do consider your deductible, whether or not the broker/agent thinks the loss is covered and your prior claim’s history.
Whether or not you decide to file a claim, quickly start mitigation yourself or with a restoration company.
You need to take “reasonable and prudent measures designed to preserve, protect & secure property from further damage” including microbial growth & amplification. Don’t wait! Delays may cause additional damages and those subsequent damages may NOT be covered by your insurance company.
The value in hiring a qualified restoration company is their familiarity with the claims process. They directly bill the insurance company, using standard service rates. The insurance company understands that property damage restoration is their specialty, streamlining the process.
Before hiring, ask the restoration company about their qualifications, years in business, products they use (green vs. traditional chemicals), licenses, and training, billing practices, charges and warranties.
ALL Westchester County contractors are required to have a Home Improvement License to work in your home. You may check the restoration company’s license at www.westchestergov.com
Don’t be misled or fooled by franchise advertising which suggests that bigger is better and that they are your only option. Many of these individuals have limited knowledge and experience, but they do have the best advertising budgets. A property owner has the right to select ANY company you wish. You need to feel comfortable that the company you hire has your best interest in mind.
If the insurance company tries to steer you decision toward one particular restoration company, remember it’s your property, your choice.
Document a complete home inventory, as well as receipts and/or photos of possessions that were destroyed or damaged. Save those damaged items. DO NOT DISCARD.
Give the insurance adjuster the receipts for temporary repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your home.
Make sure that you keep receipts for “additional living expenses”. It is an insurance industry standard that policies pay for temporary living accommodations, a pier diem per family member for food along with reimbursing for incidentals, such as, hygiene items and even transportation costs.
If your claims turns out to be a complicated one or if you feel that the settlement/compensation is inadequate, you may want to consider hiring a claims advocate.