Written by: James Montalbano, Public Adjuster
Damage to your property from wind and water can cause tremendous emotional and financial stress. It can also be hard to know what to do next – where do you start with filing a claim or salvaging items from your home? At Jansen/Adjusters International, we have handled wind and water claims for over 40 years, and we’re here to help walk you through some of the most common questions and answers.
After your property has been damaged by wind and/or water:
Jansen/Adjusters International will:
- Complete a detailed drawing of your house or structure along with a detailed estimate of the damage. This estimate will be sent to the insurance adjuster as our preliminary scope of damage. We will also document the loss with photographs.
- Send our contents team to inventory all damaged items – including non-salvageable pieces – and price them accordingly.
- Once the inventory list is completed, our team will provide it for your review. After you review it and provide us with any additional information, including the ages of more expensive items, we will submit the list to the insurance company’s adjuster for inclusion in your claim file.
The insurance company will most likely:
- Send a reservation of rights letter, which legally allows them access to the property to investigate the loss.
- Have the insurance adjuster or representative create a detailed estimate of the damage in addition to the estimate from Jansen/Adjusters International.
- Send out a third-party company to document all the non-salvageable items from the loss.
TO DOs for Property Owners:
- DO remove items of value, such as money, jewelry, firearms, and family heirlooms from the structure once it has been deemed safe to enter.
- DO save your receipts for immediate purchases after the loss, such as clothing, toiletries, dining, pet boarding, and housing. If you spend money, be sure to get a receipt! These purchases might fall under your additional living expense (ALE) coverage, and you could be reimbursed for them.
- DO keep in mind that your flood insurance policy will not cover temporary housing. However, ALE coverage can cover additional housing and living expenses due to wind damage. Also note that the insurance company might put you up in a hotel until you find temporary housing.
- DO take photos and videos! It is critical that you document as much of the damage as possible. Good photos that show details go a long way in proving your claim and we might have to rely on your photos to evaluate the extent of your loss.
- DO mitigate any damages as soon as possible. This can include putting a tarp over a damaged roof or removing wet and damaged items from your house to avoid further spread of mold. Your insurance will only pay for the removal of drywall that is wet and damaged. Remove wet, soft, or mildewed drywall and set it all by the curb or in a dumpster.
- DO begin looking for a remediation or restoration general contractor. Try to find one who has experience in dealing with water losses and insurance claims. This is the time to be extra critical of who you hire. If a storm hits the area, many out-of-town contractors will be looking to make a quick buck in the disaster area. Jansen/Adjusters International or your insurance company can make recommendations but remember that the final decision on the repair contractor you hire is yours.
DON’Ts for Property Owners
- DO NOT clean or throw anything away until your Jansen/Adjusters International adjuster says it is okay. Non-salvageable items need to remain in the house or structure in the room they were in at the time of the loss. We know you may want to start cleaning up now, but nothing can be removed from the house (other than valuables and undamaged items) until the insurance adjuster releases the loss from further investigation.
- DO NOT allow a remediation company to convince you to pack-out and clean items that have been in a loss. You can discuss this together with Jansen/Adjusters International and a textile company to determine what is best for your needs based on your insurance policy coverage.
- DO NOT sign a direct pay authorization (DPA) with a contractor. A DPA allows the insurance company to pay the contractor directly, meaning you have no control over your settlement money. You always want to be in control of your settlement funds.
Always rely on your Jansen/Adjusters International team before making a decision that will impact your property insurance claim. Remember, Jansen/Adjusters International’s adjusters are bound by a fiduciary agreement and our State of Texas license to protect your insurable interests after a loss. General contractors and roofers in Texas are not required to be licensed. Jansen/Adjusters International adjusters are committed to helping you through this difficult time and getting you a proper settlement.