Regrettably, you may be dealing with the terrible aftermath of a catastrophe like a flood or hurricane. Things like flood damage, wind damage, structural damage, and storm surge are all common conditions during catastrophes. Insurance claims inevitably follow, and documentation of the damage is important.
Here are a few tips on documenting conditions for insurance purposes.
- List your personal items, room by room – try to think of every item along with pictures of each.
- List furniture – manufacturer, date of purchase, vendor
- List finishes of the room – floor covering, wall covering
- List precious items – artwork, jewelry, guns, collections, etc.
- List your insurance carriers and the names and phone numbers of your agent
- List the items in your garage or exterior storage room
- List kitchen appliances (built-in and free standing), washer and dryer, freezers
Photograph damage on the outside and inside of your house before moving things. Photograph damage of your lawn, fences, trees, power poles, debris pile, neighbor’s lawn and house, and any significant damage in your neighborhood. If flood damage, measure the height of the water mark on your wall or fence and take a picture of the measurement on your tape measure. Also, take pictures from afar and up close to identify specific damage like cracks, separations, and localized damage.
The reason for taking pictures and documenting the damage is to identify how the damage occurred or the magnitude of the damage, in a specific detail. Trained professionals, like engineers and insurance adjusters, may be able to discern the cause of the damage occurred from your pictures. Why is that important? Because the exact CAUSE of the damage is important in resolving your insurance claim. For example, with extensive damage from a hurricane, opinions may be needed to determine if wind or water damaged your house. If multiple insurance policies are in place, the cause of the damage is important to determine which policy may be needed for the damage.
The best way to document flood damage is to hire a licensed engineer experienced in evaluating damaged buildings.