What are some things I can do to protect myself and make sure that I am treated fairly through the claims and rebuilding process?

  1. Deal with people in writing or by email. Don’t rely on what a person says. Make the person put it in writing.
  2. Understand your insurance policy. Your policy outlines your rights and responsibilities as they relate to your insurance company. Knowing your rights under the policy will allow you to demand that you receive everything required by the policy.
  3. Keep copies of all communications you have with your insurance company or its adjustor. Along these lines, try to put everything in writing so there is no confusion down the road.
  4. The more thorough you are initially regarding everything that was damaged or lost the better. By documenting everything initially, it makes it harder for the insurance company to say that the loss was not as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
  5. Everything is negotiable. Don’t just accept your insurance company’s initial offer.
  6. Remember that insurance companies make money by collecting premiums not paying claims. This means that your insurance company will want to pay as little as possible on your claim. It is up to you to make sure that the amount you receive is fair for the loss you have sustained.
  7. Don’t sign anything without reading it first. When dealing with an insurance company this is important because you do not want to sign away any of your rights under the policy. When dealing with a contractor, you want to make sure that you will get what you pay for and, if you don’t, you will have some recourse against the contractor.
  8. Be very careful when selecting a contractor. A reputable contractor should be more than willing to give you proof of insurance, references and information about the company. Also, a reputable contractor should have no problem signing a contract and giving you a timetable regarding the work.
  9. Don’t give anyone any money until work starts. Also, never pay someone all of the money up front. If an initial payment is required, such payment should only be for a small portion of the total cost (i.e. usually less than 15 to 20%).
  10. Always get at least three estimates for any repair work. This will give you a fair understanding of what your project should cost. Remember, the cheapest bid is not always the best.
  11. Trust your gut. If your gut is telling you that something it is not right or fair, you are probably right