If your home was damaged by the violent storms that ripped through five states last week, try these cleanup tips from the Restoration Industry Association and advice on filing insurance claims from the Insurance Information Institute:
Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a detailed description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the site.
Keep a notebook to track dates and times of conversations with individuals pertaining to your claim.
Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred by making temporary repairs.
If it’s safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property, including each room or area, to help with the claims process and assist the adjuster in the investigation.
Look for valuables and important papers (e.g., birth/marriage certificates, wills, tax records, etc.) Call credit repositories to put a hold on your credit so anyone finding your personal records can’t steal your identity.
Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make two copies — one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Include a description of the lost or damaged items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase, and estimated replacement cost.
Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts, or other papers that show the value of the property you lost.
If electrical appliances, including televisions and computers, are damaged, do not turn them back on when power is restored. This can result in electric shock and/or do further damage to the appliance. Electronics can often be cleaned and restored by contractors who know what they’re doing.
Beware of scammers offering restoration or repair services. Check references.
As you sort through damaged areas of your home, wear heavy rubber gloves or work gloves and thick-soled shoes, preferably not tennis shoes. Wash your hands frequently — especially before touching your face or eating, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Do not use bleach to disinfect since it is corrosive and can react with other substances. Use household disinfectants. Hard surfaces can be disinfected as well as some soft goods, depending on washability.
Transport computers, art work, and musical instruments to a dry environment.
Damaged papers and books can be frozen temporarily to prevent further disintegration until they can be restored by a professional.
If your home is so severely damaged that you have to find somewhere else to live while it’s repaired, keep a record of all expenses for meals, hotels, toiletries, replacement clothing, prescriptions, etc.
You can hire any qualified company for restoration and repair work, not just a company recommended by the insurance company.
Source: Restoration Industry Association and Insurance Information Institute