With heavy rains and flooding expected to hit Maryland thanks to Hurricane Joaquin, homeowners need to familiarize themselves with their insurance policies.
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland recommends the following:
- Create and maintain an inventory of your personal possessions. Use a camera to take pictures or video of both the interior and exterior of your home as well as your property, including items stored on your property such as vehicles or lawn/farm equipment. Maintain receipts for any major items. This documentation should be saved in a safe place outside the home, such as in a safe deposit box at your bank, or use a cloud storage online service.
- Keep all of your insurance policies organized and in an easily accessible spot. Review your policies each year to make sure they are adequate.
- Be sure to note deadlines for filing claims.
- Make sure you carry your policy numbers and contact information for your insurance company with you at all times.
And in the unfortunate event that you do have to file a claim:
- Contact your insurance adjuster immediately. You might be eligible for loss-of-use benefits which means you could be reimbursed for hotel costs, food and other living expenses while your house is unlivable.
- Start seeking out current replacement costs for items you'll be including in your claim.
- Document the damage to your property and possessions thoroughly; take pictures or video.
- If your home is unlivable, contact your utility company to turn off your water and gas or electric services.
- Do not make permanent repairs until you get approval from your insurance company.
- Check to make sure any contractors you are considering hiring are properly licensed and have up-to-date workers compensation and liability insurance.
- Be aware that if you hire an uninsured and unlicensed contractor and a serious injury were to occur to the contractor, you could potentially be liable for paying the workers compensation benefits.
- Never hand over an insurance check for the full amount of the repairs to a contractor at the start of a project. Maryland law stipulates a contractor can't request a deposit in excess of one third of the total contract price upfront.