Is Homeowners Insurance Enough During Tough Times?
Homeowners Insurance is supposed to protect us in case of disasters. That is what we have come to expect from our homeowners insurance over the years. But what if the disaster is the costliest in U.S. History? What if your insurance agent’s home and office were destroyed in the disaster also?
That is what happened to many customers and homeowners insurance agents and companies after Katrina hit the Gulf coast. Many agents’ homes, offices and insurance companies’ claims centers were in the same situation as their clients due to the storms. So what did they do? They set up “office” in tents and mobile trailers. Then Hurricane Rita blew away these temporary offices and the agents and companies set them up again. These temporary shelters acted as a communications center for all people in the surrounding areas. Local people would come by to ask questions, meet with their claims adjustors and just catch up on the news with their neighbors.
Extreme circumstances dictated unconventional responses: some agents even filed claims for their clients without even talking to the clients just so they could get the claim “in the queue.” Allstate allowed customers to submit claims through any agent in the country and set up a priority line to assist. They sent email to agents in the areas surrounding the disaster areas to act as messengers by “word of mouth” to their fellow agents in the effected areas. The larger companies such as State Farm & Allstate that service claims for the national flood Insurance Program even used satellite imagery to determine damage in some neighborhoods that were entirely flooded.
Lessons Learned: Those of us not effected by these disasters can learn a few lessons about coping with future disasters from the thousands of policyholders that are still waiting to get their claims paid. As soon as possible, take steps to prevent further damage to your home if possible: such as covering the roof with a tarp if possible. You can hire a contractor if you can find one, as that would be safer for most of us than climbing on our roofs. Hold off making any repairs until you see or talk to an adjuster first. Plus, keep your receipts, as you’ll need them to prove expenses that can be reimbursed later.