BBB Consumer Tips: Natural Disaster Checklist

In case of natural disaster it's important first to protect your family, but right after a disaster hits, it's also important to protect your money. Janna Kiehl of the Better Business Bureau has some good rules to follow.

Plan for a natural disaster can help ease the stress and anxiety caused if your home is damaged by storms: 

· Create 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. Save in a safe place off premises. 

· Keep your insurance policies organized and in an easily accessible spot. Review your coverages with your insurance agent regularly.

· Know your deadlines for filing claims.

· Carry your policy numbers and contact information for your insurance company with you at all times.

Repairing or rebuilding your home from storm damage: 

· Contact your insurance adjuster immediately. You may be eligible for loss-of-use benefits. Document all conversations with your insurance company and their adjuster. Get promises for reimbursements in writing and keep all receipts.

· Document the damage to your property and possessions and create a detailed account of your belongings and losses. 

· Make minor repairs that you can do safely to minimize further damage to your home. Beware of fly-by-night contractors who may try to offer these services for exorbitant fees. Be sure to get quotes in writing.

· Make permanent repairs only after approval from your insurance company. 

· Read the fine print of any document you sign. Unscrupulous businesses will trick consumers into signing a work estimate without reading the fine print, which commits you to automatically contract with their business if your insurance claim is approved. 

· Check to make sure any contractors is properly licensed with the city and registered with the BBB. 

· Do not hand over an insurance check to a contractor for repairs prior to work being started. A good rule of thumb is to never give more than 1/3 of the job price up front and make sure that your insurance company has approved all repairs before your final payment to the business. 

Better Business Bureau 
720 South Tyler, Suite B112
(806) 379-6222

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