Records for a Disaster Insurance Claim — February 2010, reviewed January 2013

With the exception of flooding, most property losses due to a natural disaster are covered by homeowner’s insurance.  If you have property damage you need to contact your insurance agent to report the loss.  The sooner you talk to an agent, the sooner your claim can be filed and an adjuster will look at your damage.  Find out when the adjuster will visit.

Protect your property from further damage or theft.  Patch roofs temporarily.  Cover broken windows with boards or plastic and move household items out of the weather to a safe storage location.  Take pictures of the damage beforehand if possible.

Accurate records will help you go through the recovery process.  Include a list of all cleaning and repair bills, including materials, cost of rental equipment and depreciation of purchased equipment.

Maintain a list of all disaster-related living expenses, including motel and restaurant bills, home rental and car rental.

List all actual losses, including furniture, appliances, clothing, paintings, artifacts, food and equipment, regardless of your intent to replace the items.  Try to document the value of each object lost.  Written and videotaped household inventories, bills of sale, check and charge account records and insurance evaluations are good evidence.  If you don’t have these records, estimate the value and give purchase place and date of purchase.

Photograph damaged property.  These pictures can also be used for tax deduction evidence.

Good records save a lot of headaches even when disaster doesn’t strike you.  But if it does, know what to do that will help you with the insurance claim process. For information on dealing with disaster loss, access ‘Recovery after Disaster: A Family Financial Toolkit’ online at www.extension.umn.edu/family/tough-times/disaster-recovery/family-financial-toolkit/ .