After the storm, dealing with insurance claims is fraught with traps

This recent New York Times article provides some excellent guidance about handling insurance claims.

We hope all our friends, clients and readers are healthy and hopefully weathered Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter that followed well. We know the destruction at the shore is horrendous and heartbreaking for many.

Add the stress of dealing with insurance companies to the heartbreak and anxiety can be a recipe for a “perfect storm”.

My advice to clients is to be especially wary of anyone who approaches you to provide professional assistance. While there are many qualified and ethical Public Adjusters (these are different than “Independent Adjusters”), not all fit that description.

Whatever you do, try to stay organized and document everything. A binder or spiral notebook in which you create a “daily log”, to note all interactions, addresses, contact information, observations etc could be invaluable. A digital camera, good carrying bag and extra batteries are invaluable.

Demand copies of anything you are given to sign, right then and there. If you cannot have the copy then, offer to take the paper, make a copy and send the other party the original. Take notes of any

One other trick I learned from years as a trustee going into strange buildings to inspect or inventory: Pick one place as a “staging area” for your notes, camera, jacket etc, and do not put anything down anywhere else. Yes, I know, this is your property, but in the chaos of picking through a mess, this is still a good rule.

The other point is to be patient.

Finally, seek professional advice, from your own insurance agent, or adjusters or lawyers. These people are objective can help you sort things out.

Finally, try to remember that “this too shall pass”. Life goes on…

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