300 Sand Pine Blvd. Venice, FL 34292

Tips For Recovery

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  • Tips For Recovery

After you have suffered damage to your home or office, making sure everyone is safe is priority one. Clean out small wounds and bandage to prevent infection. If anyone has more serious injuries like severe burns or other health concerns, get assistance from a medical professional immediately. If you have pets, make sure they are unharmed or if needed contact a veterinarian.

After the disaster, your first instinct most often is to go back in your home or office and grab items that you might be able to salvage. Our recommendation is to avoid entering the property until it has been thoroughly inspected and while a firefighter or another official may have deemed it “Okay to Enter”, it does not mean it is safe.

Depending on the severity of the damage to your home, finding somewhere safe for you and your family to stay temporarily may be necessary. Even if the damage does not seem severe, it still could be unsafe to stay in your home. Small fires, for example, can have a significant amount of smoke damage that is not healthy for you or your loved ones to breathe. Family or friends are often first choice people call or we can assist in finding a place for you and your family to stay temporarily.

Your insurance policy will require you to take reasonable steps to minimize further damage to your property. Policies typically will state it is “your duty to mitigate damages.” This includes items like covering a section of your damaged roof with a tarp until repairs can be done or building a temporary wall to contain damage to an area. While you are responsible for such requirements, your insurance

company will pay for these costs if you have file a claim. Our professional team will evaluate your property and ensure that it is properly secured, day 1. Here are some of the steps we take to mitigate further damage include:

  • Roof Protection – To prevent further damage from rain or debris, tarping your roof may be necessary.
  • Board up – To avoid vandalism, we will board up all necessary window and doors. We will also place caution tape around the perimeter of your property to keep people away.
  • Structure Stabilization – We will assess the structural integrity of the property, shore up any load bearing support that may have been affected and eliminate potential safety hazards. Once the property is cleared, homeowners should be safe to enter and gather necessary items. For your safety, you should wear adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) while on-site.

First, notify your family you are safe then you may want to contact the following groups after the loss.

  •  Fire Department – You will want to ask for a copy of the fire report for your records and your insurance company may request a copy of the report. It may take the fire department a few days to finalize.
  •  Insurance Company – You will want to notify your insurance company of your claim and you may want to ask for a copy of your policy as your copy may have been lost.
  •  Police Department – Authorities should already have documented the fire but if your home will be vacant, you will want to notify your local police department to help prevent vandalism or theft.
  •  Property Manager/HOA – If you experienced a large fire, chances are your HOA/property manager may already be aware but your association may have rules stating you need to notify them of the incident.
  • Doctor/Primary Care – If you have prescription medication(s) you are required to take, notify your doctor of the incident and see if he/she can provide you with refills immediately.
  • Work/School – If the damage occurred at home, your workplace/school should be notified as you may need time to handle issues related to the loss.
  • Other Organizations – Many organizations are willing to provide aid when needed. You may be affiliated with groups that are willing to help, like your church or another religious organization. Some other suggestions to contact – Red Cross, Salvation Army, or other community support groups.

It is important that you file your insurance claim as soon as you can. Neglect to filing a claim in a timely manner can have adverse effects. Contact your insurance agent, they will be able to help you with this process.  You may also want to ask your agent to review your homeowners’ policy with you to explain coverage. It is important to know the type of policy you have and coverage limits of each component.

Your insurance carrier will ask you to fill out a “proof of loss claim,” in which you itemize your losses and list the value. Depending on the extent of your loss, it may be difficult to remember everything that may have been lost or damaged. A good way to start this process is to divide your list by location/room. Photographs or other visual references may help jog your memory. Be as accurate as you can, list brand name/manufacturer details, place and date of purchase if possible.

If you were forced to evacuate your home, you may not have had time to grab necessary items such your toiletries and clothes that you need work or school. Your homeowners’ insurance will cover the cost to replace these items, but you may want to ask your insurance company for an advance against your claim to cover the costs of some of the basic necessities you need to purchase.

Be sure to save receipts for everything you buy, and be reasonable about your purchases. Your policy will state replacement costs cover “like kind and quality”, so if you decide to replace your no-brand name purse with an expensive Coach purse, you will end up paying the difference.

Keep all your information regarding the claim together. Use this binder to place your insurance documents, letters, contracts, invoices, receipts, bills, emails, call notes and any other information.

Dealing with a large claim will take months and being organized will make a difference. Document all communication with your insurance carrier. Calls, emails, and letters can be crucial pieces of evidence if you and your carrier disagree. Keep all original documents; make a copy to anyone who might need it.

In this binder, keep receipts together of all expenses that pertain to your claim. There are different components of your policy where expenses will be allocated. During this process, most of your expenses will fall under two categories; personal property and additional living expenses (ALE). Items you may need replaced early in the process such as clothing and items related to work or school will fall under personal property. If your home is deemed not livable, expenses such as hotel and meals are covered under your additional living expenses (ALE).

The “loss of use” clause in your policy entitles you to reimbursement for living expenses while you’re out of your home or if you can’t use a portion of your home like the kitchen. Additional living expenses (ALE) are considered the difference between what it costs you to live on a daily basis at home versus what it costs during this process. For example, if you regularly spent $300 per week on groceries and meals before the fire, but are now spending $400 per week, you can claim only $100. This would also apply to other expenses such as laundry facilities or extended commute costs.

You still are required to pay your mortgage, taxes, and insurance even if you’re not able to live there currently, so temporary living arrangements may be fully reimbursed. Be sure to review your ALE coverage limits; hotels expenses for an extended time may cost more than what your policy allows for.

Many people have friends or family that they choose to stay with versus a hotel. If you choose to stay with a friend or family member, get itemized costs for room and services they are providing to submit to insurance. Your insurance carrier should have no problem paying this expense as it should be much less than if you were to stay in a hotel and eat all meals at restaurants.

If your home or office has been deemed safe to enter, you may want to go through to salvage what you can and throw out what you can’t. Before you toss anything, check with your insurance company. While some items may be clearly unsalvageable, documentation of all items is necessary before they can be thrown out. If there is no documentation an item was unsalvageable, insurance can deny replacement.

On occasion, insurance limits on personal property do not cover to replace everything that is damaged. In these cases, it is important to hang on to items you may think can’t be salvaged. In recent years, there has been advancements in cleaning restoration equipment that can help save your belongings.

It may seem redundant to continue paying your premiums but it may save you money in the long run. Your homeowners’ policy includes a section for liability coverage. If you happen to damage someone else’s property while you are out of your home, your liability coverage can be used. Be sure to contact your agent to forward your mail to your temporary address.

You may have lost important documents and/or cards which you will needs replaced or reissued.

Feel free to ask us for our important documents list with who to contact if you need replacement.

Emotions can hit hard after going through a disaster. Don’t’ feel like you have to go through this alone. Accept help from friends and family that offer and utilize local charitable organizations that are willing. Lastly, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have question or concerns during the restoration process. We are happy to help and offer our assistance.

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