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Posted: 9:43 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2011

Claims: How to file, deal with adjusters

What if you have to file a claim?

Take photos or video of your home to document your belongings for insurance adjusters. A free computer software program, www.insurancevault.net , will walk you through what are the key images to take. Make sure images are easily accessible immediately after the hurricane — not solely stored on a computer.

Save copies of receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers.

Start a disaster savings account so that money is available in a worst-case scenario.

Write down the name, address and claims telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent’s contact information.

Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate.

Keep materials such as plywood on hand in case you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Take photos of the damage before you make repairs. Finally, keep receipts from your repairs so that your insurance company has documentation to reimburse you.

Also, document any repairs you make to your house after previous hurricanes. If you don’t, and suffer new damage in the same place, an insurance company could dispute that you ever used the money they paid you to make repairs.

Help adjusters – and others – find you

If you have to leave your home following a storm, it is helpful to leave a phone number where you can be reached somewhere on the outside of your home.

You can spray-paint the number on a piece of wood or on the side of your house. Paint your address and the name of your insurance company on the damaged part of your home for adjusters cruising neighborhoods.