The last few weeks have been incredible! With the nation coming to a grinding halt due to the coronavirus, then Utah having compounded the damage from the largest earthquake we have had in 30 years! Many people have been left wondering what to do and in a state of insecurity and disbelieve.
I wanted to make a post today to help Utahns that have suffered damage from the earthquake, to know what to do and how they should handle their insurance claims.
I have been an advocate for earthquake insurance for many years and have written several articles on the matter. Even with my warnings many people still do not have earthquake insurance. It is estimated that only 10-15% of homeowners in Utah have earthquake insurance despite living on an active fault line.
That being said it is important to read through your policy and see if you have earthquake insurance on your property. You would have to purchase this separately from your home or business policies. Check with your agent to make sure that you have this on your policy.
The first thing to do after the earthquake and you have secured your family. Check your property for damages. I usually start by inspecting the foundation. I recommend taking a video of your property during your inspection this will help make a permanent record that will help justify your claim. Inspect the foundation you are looking for new cracks that can be directly attributed to the earthquake. These will be sharp and clean. Take close up photos of the damage.
You will then move to the exterior walls and be very thorough to check for shifting on the walls siding or any additional cracks. These will also likely have corresponding cracks to the interior walls and ceilings.
Once you have determined that there is indeed earthquake damage to your property you will want to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Late reporting is the number one issue I come across in Utah. Your policy will outline how much time you have to report the claim. The main issues are we do not want the carrier to believe that you were negligent which would cause a denial of your claim. This also means that you should take reasonable measures to protect your property from further damages.
You will also need to read your policy and familiarize yourself with the after loss duties of your policy. This usually includes a signed statement saying what when and where the damage occurred along with a line itemized estimate of the repairs. You can get estimates from your contractor.
Your insurance company should send out a licensed adjuster to inspect your property. Aks for their license before letting them on your property. Often time carriers will send out a nonqualified representative to inspect your claim. You want to make sure they are licensed and qualified. This is your life after all.
Your insurance company has 30 days to investigate your claim and make payment to you. You will need to make sure that they are staying on top of your claim.
The most important thing when handling your claim is to document everything. Phone calls emails conversation and your property damage. Do not through anything away until you have documented it. There is a saying in the insurance world if you don't have proof it happened it didn't.
Remember there are resources available as well. You do not have to go it alone. We at Utah Public Adjuster help you the policyholder to get a fair settlement from your insurance company.
From our experience, every claim should be represented as the carriers have it in their best interest to underpay your claim. You have it in your best interest to have representation to make sure you get paid what you are owed.
We offer free consultations and contingency contracts for our services. You have nothing to loose
Give us a call today