Claiming on your Insurance
Mentioning how devastating TC Debbie was is wasting your time, but getting motivated now to re-start is not. Apart from the tangible benefits of getting an insurance claim processed, it’s just good to be pro-active: feeling like the wheels are starting to turn again is the polar opposite of the soul destroying events of the last couple of weeks.
With that in mind, here’s a brief hit list to get you busy:
- Make the call now – most insurance policies compel you to make contact just as soon as possible after suffering loss. Contact should be made immediately by phone and followed up by email or letter. When talking to your insurer or your broker, if you’re not sure of the extent of the damage you’ve suffered, let them know that you might need to amend your claim as you make your way through the damage you’ve suffered. At the same time, ask them exactly what steps you need to follow to make a proper claim (eg phone and in writing).
- Gather your evidence – charge up the phone and take photos, lots of them, and check with your insurer what you can and cannot toss out;
- Mitigate your loss – under your policy, you’re compelled to take all reasonable steps to mitigate or reduce your exposure to loss. For example, toss out all perishables and don’t let them do more damage sitting there rotting away, and keep undercover where possible any valuables you still have. Tie down or arrange to be taken away any loose roofing iron and other building material which may result in injury or more property damage.
- Work out your numbers – some insurers will appoint a loss assessor to assess your claim, others will ask for quotes. In the latter case, get busy on your phone and call for some quotes. Just as soon as you can get that information in, get it to your insurer. Keep in mind that exaggerated claims are often doomed to fail (and can possibly be a breach of a condition of your insurance). Our recommendation is to take a realistic and honest approach, and avoid a protracted, costly and emotionally draining dispute.
- Get an answer – at this point you should be able to get some clarity from your insurer that you’re covered, and also that they accept (or not) the amount you’re claiming.
- Disputes – if the insurer rejects the claim or disputes the amount, then discuss with your broker (or the insurer direct if there is no broker) the next step in the review and dispute resolution process. It’s vital at this stage to ensure that any discussions and meetings you have with your insurer are on a without prejudice basis (this is a fancy legal way of saying that any discussions or meetings that you have are not to affect your legal rights if you do have to proceed to court). It’s more than likely at this point if you are able to reach a settlement with your insurer, that you will be asked to enter into some kind of settlement or release agreement. At this point you should really talk to your lawyer to make sure that what you’ve agreed to is what’s reflected in the document.
There’s nothing easy about this: loss or damage to our home and personal effects has a lasting and overwhelming impact on us all. What’s important is to start taking steps to get back on the road to recovery.
Good luck. Get on to it.