Mitigate your damages – Your insurance policy states you have a duty to protect the property from further damage. Therefore, you must take reasonable steps to protect the property including boarding up windows and doors; tarping the roof; moving items out of harm’s way; extracting water from the property and anything else that may be necessary to protect the property from additional damage.
Notice of claim – Next, you will want to notify your insurance company of the claim. You should either call your agent, or call the after-hours insurance claim reporting phone number, or file it on line with your insurance company.
Don’t disturb the scene – Be sure that you do not disturb the scene until the insurance company has had an opportunity to inspect the damages. They will want to investigate what caused the damages, so you should not move things or alter the scene until they give you permission to do so. Also, do not throw things away until your adjuster gives you permission in writing that you can do so. This is your evidence and should you throw it away, your insurance company does not have to pay you for it.
Prepare your claim – Most people think their insurance company will come out and tell them how much they have lost, and pay their claim. The fact is, the policy states that you must compile an inventory and present your claim to the insurance company in a certain period of time, usually 60 days. This means that you have to complete a full inventory of damaged contents and obtain a detailed estimate for the repairs to the building.
Do not hire the first contractor that shows up at your doorstep – A disaster attracts a crowd. While most of them want to help, sometimes hiring the first contractor can actually hurt you and your claim. Take time to sort out your claim first. Then you can interview several candidates and check references. You will be working with them for some time and you want to ensure that they will be a good fit for you.
By following the above steps, this should help you get through your claim. Remember, it will take some time to settle a large claim. This means several months of documenting damages, gathering information and eventually negotiations with the insurance company.