Sadly, the bereaved people of Arkansas are still in mourning for the devastating losses caused by the recent tornadoes. As Arkansas residents begin to pick up the pieces, many have been left wondering how their insurance will cover property damage caused by the storm. In this blog entry, we’ll discuss how to file a tornado claim, and how you may be able to qualify for federal assistance.
How to File a Tornado Claim
In our last blog post, we wrote about how tornado damage is typically covered under standard homeowners insurance. While most policies do not specifically mention tornadoes by name, they do address damage caused by high winds, storms, and rain. In 2013, tornadoes actually accounted for 80% of all covered losses caused by natural disasters in the United States.
But after your property has been damaged, what should you do?
First of all, it’s extremely important that you get in touch with your insurance company right away. Many insurance policies set a time limit on how long you have to file a claim, so the sooner you’re able to speak to your insurer, the better.
When you do speak to the insurance company, be prepared with as much data as you can possibly gather. In particular, it’s a very good idea to thoroughly photograph the damages. Try to get shots from multiple angles to ensure a complete and accurate representation of your losses. It’s also a good idea to record video footage to supplement the photographs if you can.
Try to track down as many receipts and purchase records as you can. If you cannot find or remember your purchases, your credit card company should be able to help.
In addition to the normal location for your insurer, you may be able to find a more convenient mobile claims unit. You can find out if a mobile unit is located near you by speaking to your insurance company, the Arkansas Insurance Department, or through a shelter.
You should also keep a detailed record of all of your interactions with your insurance company. Make a note of who you speak to, and when you speak to them. The more organized and supported by evidence you are, the smoother the claims process will go.
Last but not least, you should resist the temptation to quickly sign any work contracts with opportunistic building companies. These companies know that their services are in high demand immediately after a natural disaster, and if you rush to rebuild, you could wind up overspending. Try to collect and compare a handful of different rates before you make a selection.
How to File a Federal Assistance Request
While the majority of Americans do have homeowners insurance, more than half are underinsured. However, because President Obama has declared a federal disaster in Arkansas, tornado victims may now be able to qualify for federal aid to help cover expenses. So how do you file a request for federal assistance?
There are three ways you can get started:
- Phone. Call the registration line at (800) 621-3363.
- Internet. Visit www.disasterassistance.gov. You’ll find links to apply for disaster assistance, and to check the status of your application. You’ll also find assistance locators, document forms, and assistance FAQs.
- Mobile device. Go to m.fema.gov to view FEMA’s mobile site.
If you or someone you love was hurt or lost property to the recent storms in Arkansas, an experienced Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer can help you claim financial compensation. To schedule a consultation, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak today at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.
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