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How to prepare for storm damage – a lawyer’s guide from Howard, Stallings, From, Hutson, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A.

Prepare For Storm Damage

Published by B. Joan Davis

B. Joan Davis

How to prepare for storm damage – a lawyer’s guide from Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A. | B. Joan Davis | Pulse | LinkedIn

With Hurricane Mathew approaching, members of our community are faced with the prospect of property damage and business interruption.  With offices in Morehead City, New Bern & Raleigh, the lawyers at Howard Stallings have assisted many small businesses with their insurance claims and storm recovery efforts.  As a result, we have created the following list of pre and post storm tips to insure that your company’s insurance claim and storm recovery go smoothly:

Take Photographs Before the Storm – Photographs will be important to prove the extent of your damages later. Take new photos every year, or after any alterations to the property.

Back-Up Important Files & Information – Make sure your records and communications systems are backed up off site so you can immediately retrieve key client information, financial documents, and sales histories. Having this information immediately available can make or break your public relations and disaster recovery efforts.

Assign A Lead Spokesperson – Only an individual who is knowledgeable in the area of insurance should handle interactions with your insurance carrier. This is essential, since the smallest comment can make a big difference in how much money you recover.

Know A Contractor – Ideally, you should know who you’ll call to help in your physical recovery efforts. This saves you valuable time and gives you priority over others shopping for contractors after a disaster.

Get Your Insurance Policy & Report Your Loss – Request a complete copy of your insurance policy. Read and make sure you understand your rights and obligations under your insurance policy before entering into any serious discussions or negotiations with your insurance carrier. You may be surprised what your policy does and does not cover.  If you have questions about your policy, seek out a professional to help you understand it.

Mitigate Your Damage – It’s your responsibility to perform emergency work such as putting up tarps, removing wet drywall and carpeting to prevent mold, and boarding up openings and installing fencing, where necessary, to protect your belongings and keep others from getting hurt.  If you fail to do so, your insurance company may not have to pay for certain losses.

Document The Aftermath – Photograph or video the scene, including any and all damage to your business’ building and tangible property, before you begin any cleanup efforts. When estimating damages, do not rely solely on your historical records. Instead, secure replacement cost estimates.

Keep Your Receipts – Keep a log of all activities and save all receipts, including those for property replacement and extra expenses. This will provide the documentation required to make sure your insurance carrier reimburses you in full.

Get Your Own Experts – Policyholders often expect the insurance company to tell them what to do to save their business. Insurance company adjusters are simply auditors of your property insurance claim. Only you know your business and what’s best for your recovery.  The insurance adjuster sent by your carrier to evaluate the damages is working for the insurance company, not for you. You should consider it your responsibility to document, prove and submit your insurance claim.

If you believe your insurance company is not paying you what you deserve, or that you are being treated unfairly, call a professional to help.  Robert Jessup directs our firm’s insurance claim litigation practice.  He can be reached at (919) 821-7700 and rjessup@hsfh.com.

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