The clean-up after a major storm event can be daunting and overwhelming. To help you handle the insurance claims process for your HOA with confidence, let’s cover the basic steps of the insurance claims process as it relates to damage caused by extreme weather.
Step 1: Take Inventory of the Damage
First, you need to examine the HOA’s property and take inventory of any and all damages. Take pictures and recordings to document the extent and types of damage while creating a comprehensive list of items that need to be repaired or replaced.
Complete this step as soon as possible after the storm event has ended to avoid any delays in the claims process. Insurance providers quickly become overwhelmed with claims after a storm event, so the sooner you can prepare and submit your claim, the better.
Step 2: Take Necessary Actions to Mitigate Further Damage
Don’t wait until after your claim has been approved to take actions to mitigate any further damage to your property. The insurance company probably will not cover damage caused by a failure to take preventive measures such as shutting off water to stop a leak, drying out damp books, or covering a shattered window with thick plastic.
Step 3: Obtain Estimates for Repairs
Research credible contractors and obtain two to three bids you can compare to determine a reasonable estimate for repairs. In an effort to create transparency, submit the vendors’ proposals to your insurance agent and adjuster, and ask for further direction on when to move forward with repairs.
As a good rule of thumb, look for vendors who have been in business for a long time, have a good track record and references, and carry their own insurance policies, licenses, and certifications.
Be wary of contractors and vendors who are “storm chasers,” those who follow destructive weather events and offer their repair services to those affected, often at unbelievably low prices, only to leave before work is completed or to complete low-quality work. Storm chasers often are not licensed or reputable.
Step 4: File Your Insurance Claim
Submit your claim – along with your pictures and videos of the damage, your repair estimates, and police reports if any were filed – to your insurance company. Be ready to provide the date of the incident, the cause of the damage, and your policy number. You should also know the value of all property damaged or destroyed by the storm. The HOA’s most current reserve study should be helpful in making these calculations.
Keep in mind that state law will typically include deadlines for submitting insurance claims that you will need to meet.
Step 5: Show the Insurance Adjuster the Damage
Your insurance company will most likely send an insurance adjuster on-site to examine the damage and prepare a quote for repairs, so you will need to have someone available at the community to receive the adjuster when they arrive. Ensure that the adjuster has a cleared path to the damaged property and that it is accessible for them to examine.
For example, if a clubhouse is damaged by a storm, a board member who works from home could be appointed to meet with the adjuster when they arrive or a lockbox could be placed on the clubhouse door so that the adjuster could access the building himself or herself. At a condominium, any maintenance personnel with a master key could be assigned to show the adjuster damaged units.
The insurance adjuster will review the damage the storm has caused to your HOA’s property and present you with the settlement amount. If you identify any other damages caused by the same storm event while waiting for an insurance adjuster, you should be able to add them to the initial claim.
Step 6: Hire a Contractor to Repair Damage
If possible, do not move forward with repairs until the insurance company or adjuster has given approval. Contractors may overcharge for their work, and the insurance company may not reimburse the board for the full amount.
We hope this overview of the claims process was helpful to you. If you have any further questions, please reach out to a Blue Lime Insurance agent who can help you find the right HOA insurance policy.