Unfortunately, Louisianians have endured many natural disasters in the past several years. From the historic flooding in Baton Rouge in August 2016 to the devastation caused by Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020, Gulf Coast residents are very familiar with significant storms and flooding events. While the rebuilding process will take months or years to complete, this article is designed to provide some basic information on how to document and report your property damage claim and apply for and obtain disaster assistance.
- DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT – Once you are able to do so, make sure to document the damages to your home and contents. Whether for a homeowners or flood insurance policy or to obtain government assistance, take plenty of photos of the damage. Make a list of the items in your home that were damaged or destroyed. One way to organize this list is to list each item from each room together, approximate its age, where it was purchased and its value when purchased. As you rebuild, and materials and items are thrown out, it will be much more difficult to document your claim.
- REPORT YOUR CLAIM – Report your damage to your homeowners or flood insurer as soon as possible. Provide as much detail about the damage as you can. If you are unaware of your insurer, contact your insurance agent who can help you to report your claim.
- OBTAIN MULTIPLE ESTIMATES – Although it is often difficult to do so after a natural disaster because of the volume of work, obtain multiple estimates for the work needed on your home. Pay for the estimate if necessary. If you have three estimates and the amounts are close, they are much more credible. Also, try and get as much detail as possible in each estimate, including specific materials to be used, dimensions, and finishes.
- SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS – Whether for repairs you undertake to fix the damage to your home, to replace contents, or for living expenses after the storm, save your receipts. These receipts will be used to document your losses and verify the amount of your claim to your insurer.
- FOLLOW UP WITH YOUR INSURER – Provide whatever is requested by your insurer as they adjust your claim. Communicate with your insurer on a regular basis. Although it may seem tedious, communication with your insurer during the claim is important.
- APPLY FOR ASSISTANCE – Especially if your property is not insured, make sure to immediately apply for government assistance. You can apply for federal assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov. Oftentimes, the state government will also administer federal or state disaster assistance funds.