After a natural disaster has damaged your home, you may be at a loss as to where to begin. The first thing you need to do, after you are safe, is contact your insurance and start a claim. In a wide spread disaster, insurance companies respond to claims in the order they came in. Depending on the size of the natural disaster determines the time it will take for insurance adjuster to come out to your property. Secondly, secure your home to avoid more damage. Will you be hiring someone to assist with this effort? If so, you will need to keep all documentation of money spent to submit to the insurance company. When you contact your insurance company, inquire how they want you to proceed.
Government organizations will be available to assist you when there is a wide spread natural disaster. Contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by calling 800-621-3362. They can help you locate temporary housing and assistant programs.
If you are unable to make your mortgage payment due to the circumstances, you can request mortgage forbearance. Forbearance allows you to hold off making payments until a time the mortgage company and you agree upon. Remember, interest will still incur during this time. Most mortgage forbearance is for a 6 month period of time. Some mortgage companies will allow you to extend it.
Keep track of all conversations and paper work. To avoid possible disagreements with your insurance company about “previous” damage, take photos of your home annually. Photograph the areas of importance; roofs, siding, windows, doors, foundation, interior rooms, ceilings and floors. Be sure to document personal belongings and have serial numbers for you more expensive items.
Starting the repair process
Locate a contractor to do the repairs. This is probably the hardest part if you are unfamiliar with the residential construction business. Often times your insurance company can give you a list of contractors. Often, they will be qualified contractors. You might consider they may have the insurance company’s best interest at heart. I have written several blogs on the topic of locating a contractor and preparing for a consultation. Reviewing these blogs will help you prepare for contacting a contractor. The most important thing to remember is to check references. If the contractor is licensed and insured, check with the county or state to verify their license.
The Repairs Begin
After selecting your contractor, it’s important to get a timeline of the repairs. Good communication with your contractor at all times is important. Again, it is important to document all conversations with your contractor via email or written documentation. This will ensure there is no miscommunication between you and the contractor. Keep regular communication with your insurance company and the contractor. This will help insure your home is repaired to its previous condition. Once again, keeping documentation and photographs of the progress (daily) will also benefit you if there is any miscommunication.
If I could give you one piece of advice, it is better to be prepared for a possible natural disaster than to be caught off guard. Have annual photographs of your property. It’s important to keep these documentations in a safe area that is water and fire proof. The best option would be at a bank safety deposit box. Have all contact information (insurance company and mortgage company) readily available to you. Document every phone call and who you spoke with the date and time of the call. These will help alleviate any added stress during this difficult time. If CH Construction can assist you in any way, give us a call.