Tips for filing an insurance claim

- While many of us are back to work after Hurricane Irma, for others, the hard work of repairing the damage is just beginning.

State Farm alone says it's processing more than 9,000 claims in Georgia, and the numbers are rising daily as some folks are just getting into their homes and putting in calls. So, the first thing you need to do is get a call in to your agent if you have damage.

But while you wait for someone to show up, you need to do things to mitigate more damage like getting a tarp over any holes trees may have caused.  Save receipts for anything you bought to protect your property from more damage. A water vacuum would be included in that.  Make sure, first, that any power lines on the house are not live. That done, get valuables out that can be stolen if you're not there.

Now take a hard look at your insurance policy. Read it. Become an expert.  Again, while you wait for an agent to start your claim, take pictures of the damage yourself. Keep a log of every conversation and what was said. Better yet, summarize your phone calls in an email so that it's time stamped.

OF NOTE....

  • - Don't toss damaged items. Your agent will want to see them.
  • - Don't start permanent repairs until there is a repair estimate.
  • - Do get an itemized copy of your insurance settlement.

If you want to refresh yourself on Georgia insurance law, do so here: Georgia Insurance Commissioner.

A final note about water damage and flood damage. They are two different things. Water damage would be the rain coming in from that hole in the roof.  Flood insurance needs to be bought separately through a federal program. Some mortgage companies make you buy flood insurance if you live in a flood zone. But, according to FEMA, 20 percent of flood claims come from property outside of high-risk flood zones. That's something to think about.

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