We see it all the time. Clients come to us asking for help after a fire, storm, water, or other kind of damage takes place. We ask them what kind of documentation they have of the damage and we watch as they look back at us with a blank face as they realize they don’t have any.
From photos and videos to written events and timestamps, documenting the damage is one of the biggest differences between a successful and an unsuccessful claim. Here are some tips to make sure you capture everything you need to get the best settlement possible from your insurance company.
Why Documenting Property Loss Is Important
Having damage to your property is incredibly stressful and depending on the situation, documenting what is happening might be the last thing on your mind. However, the most important thing that you could possibly do is start keeping track of everything that is happening.
Every single detail that you can write down could potentially be important when you go to file a property insurance claim later. Even though you are stressed, it is important to keep your wits about you and understand that you have a long process ahead and you need to do whatever you can to make sure you get what you deserve from your insurance company.
Take Pictures. Lots Of Them.
If only people would just take your word for it… things would go a lot easier. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t think that way. In order for you to get a fair settlement on your claim, your insurance company is likely going to request images of the damage. Insurance companies operate under the assumption that if there are no pictures, it didn’t happen, so making sure you prioritize images is incredibly important.
When taking pictures, make sure that you are using a good camera and try your best to make sure things are as bright as possible. Also, be sure to take pictures from as many angles as possible to be sure you capture every part of the damage. Long story short, the more pictures that you take, the better!
How To Handle Debris Removal
After your property is damaged, you are going to want to get the right to getting things cleaned up so you can try to get back to normal. No matter how tempted you are to start cleanup immediately, WAIT.
It may take some time to fully get through the documentation stage of the process to make sure that everything is captured. The debris often tells a story about exactly what happened and could be the difference between a low payment and a fair one. Don’t move anything until a public adjuster tells you to!
Documentation Of Lost Property/Items
While the damage to structures might be your main focus, it is also important to document all items that may have been damaged or destroyed. We already discussed taking photos, but in addition, try and locate as many pictures of certain items before the damage as well. Even if a lamp or painting is in the background of a picture, it may be needed to prove that an item was in good condition before the damage took place.
It’s also important to try and locate the values of items if possible. While many of us no longer keep track of receipts, you may have charges to your bank account that you can use to make sure your items are valued correctly.
Document. Document. Document.
No matter how honest and truthful of a person you are, if you have no documentation of damages to your property, your insurance company is simply not going to believe you. By over-documenting your property damage, you set yourself up for success and will make getting a larger settlement much easier.