OKLAHOMA CITY - Allstate offers suggestions for homeowners in carefully inspecting their homes after a catastrophe for damage once it is safe.
Allstate policyholders whose homes or automobiles have been damaged by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms can start the claim process by calling 1-800-54-STORM, calling their Allstate agency, or by logging on to Allstate.com.
10 Tips for Catastrophe Recovery:
1. Make sure your home is structurally safe. If your home has sustained serious structural damage, be extremely careful and be sure it is safe to be inside the home.
2. Make reasonable temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Save the receipts for temporary home repairs as these expenses may be reimbursed as part of your homeowner's policy. Your adjuster will need this information.
3. If your home is uninhabitable, review your policy to find out what additional living expenses your insurance policy may provide. Keep any receipts for expenses that may be reimbursed as part of your homeowner's policy.
4. Assist claims adjusters assigned to your case.
5. Notify creditors if bills have been lost or you're unable to pay.
6. Prepare to file an insurance claim by gathering all relevant Allstate policy numbers.
7. Report possible claims promptly.
8. Ask your utility company to stop service if your home is uninhabitable or has been destroyed.
9. Inventory your home and list damaged items before your adjuster arrives. An inventory can help facilitate the claim process after a disaster.
10. Work with a qualified tax expert to find out about tax breaks you may be eligible for because of your catastrophe losses.
10 Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed:
1. Take your time in choosing true professionals to repair your home.
2. Get estimates from several licensed, bonded contractors.
3. Check their credentials with your local Better Business Bureau or Home Builders Association.
4. Inspect contractors' licenses and proof of liability insurance.
5. Get a contract in writing.
6. Avoid paying money up-front. Some reputable contractors will require partial, up-front payment, but these pre-work payments shouldn't exceed the cost of materials or 20 percent of the total estimate.
7. Follow local building codes and inspection procedures.
8. If anyone performs unauthorized work on your house or property and demands payment, consider contacting local authorities.
9. Don't sign over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.
10. Immediately report any suspicious behavior to your local police, sheriff's department or your state's Department of Insurance.