Help Desk FAQ



What should I do when my home is damaged from a natural disaster?

Contact your insurance company or agent immediately. Also take these steps:

  • Read your policy carefully so you understand what is covered and what is excluded from coverage.
  • If you relocate temporarily, provide the insurance company or agent with your temporary address and telephone number.
  • Take photographs or video of the damaged areas. This will help you with your claims and will assist the insurance company in their investigation of your claim.
  • Make only those repairs necessary to prevent any further damage to your home. Cover roofs, walls or windows with plywood, canvas or other waterproof material. Don't have permanent repairs made without consulting your insurer, because unauthorized repairs may not be reimbursed.
  • Before you remove any damaged property, make sure an insurance adjuster or your agent has seen the damage so they can work up a damage and loss assessment. This is especially important if state or local officials have to begin debris removal operations on your property.
  • Keep all receipts for emergency repairs and for temporary living expenses.
  • Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed property. Give one copy to the insurance adjuster and be sure to keep a copy. Your list should include a description of the item and quantity (if more than one), date of purchase or approximate age, cost at the time of purchase, and estimated current replacement cost.
  • If you hire an adjuster, your insurance company may or may not agree with the damage estimate. Companies are not required to follow loss estimates prepared by a public adjuster.
  • Even if your property is condemned, it may not be a total loss. Your insurance company may decide it can be repaired. To fully protect your ability to make a claim and be paid, make sure your insurance company adjuster has inspected the damage.
  • If your insurance company denies any part of your claim, keep all the paperwork. If your area is declared a disaster by the federal government, you may be eligible to file for federal relief.
  • After you have contacted your insurer, register for FEMA disaster assistance. If your personal insurance was not enough to cover all of your losses, or if you had no insurance, you might be eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or other sources. FEMA disaster assistance includes grants to pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses, and disaster-related medical, dental and funeral expenses.

Learn more in Consumer Action's Homeowners and Renters Insurance: What you need to know before and after a natural disaster and FEMA spells disaster relief for homeowners and renters.




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