The morning after Hurricane Sandy left Queens many found themselves staring down the daunting task of collecting the pieces of their former lives and hoping to get a quick answer from insurers. The good news is if your car and home are insured, a system is in place to handle the damage. First, don’t panic. A few common-sense steps will help you navigate the waters with less stress.
• Be cautious: When navigating your home and inspecting for damage, always take a “safety first” approach, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Walk the perimeter outside and keep an eye open for any structural deficiencies or potentially loose and dangerous objects, and stay away from loose or dangling power lines.
• Call your insurer: Make sure you know the essentials of your policy ahead of time and exactly what sort of coverage you have before calling your insurance company. Bear in mind, Gov. Cuomo ruled Sandy was a tropical storm, which should have a noticeable effect on the deductible on a claim (hurricanes typically require a bigger out-of-pocket expense from homeowners).
• Make a record: take photographs and video, if possible, of all damage that resulted from the hurricane.
• Fix it if needed: If you can’t get in touch with your insurance company and have emergency repairs that require immediate attention, take photographic evidence of the damage before addressing it out of pocket if you can, a State Farm spokesperson told Reuters. Insurers will reimburse you for the expense of such repairs. Remember to keep all receipts.
• Know your rights: The state’s Department of Finance has an Insurance Department specifically designed to help distraught consumers wrangle with troublesome insurers. Keep their toll-free number handy and call when your hitting a wall with your insurer: 1 (800) 342-3736.
• Call the insurer: Know your insurance plan and what it covers. If you only have liability coverage, you’re out luck. All expenses are your own. If you have a “comprehensive” insurance plan, call your agent or insurance company as soon as you can and begin filing a claim.
• Record the damage: Be sure to take a photographic and possibly video record of the car’s state as you found it. Then, do your best to keep it that way. If your car’s condition could deteriorate over time, try stopping things from getting worse by using a protective cover. Keep your receipts.
• Check before you start the car: A wet air filter or interior are a good indicator of whether or not your car was flooded enough to cause engine issue. The air filter is prominently under the hood of most cars, often at one of the front corners under a plastic lid. If it’s wet, don’t start it, according to AAA. You’re going to need a mechanic.