We're only three days in to the era of Get Rich Slowly 3.0, and already GRS readers are providing inspiration for articles. On Sunday's “I'm back” post, for instance, Amy wrote the following:
As I type this I'm camped out on my brothers sofa, having evacuated my home during the fires in Santa Rosa. I'd love an article in the future about insurance, preparing and recovering from disasters. Thankfully my house is still standing right now, but much of our neighborhood is gone. My home no doubt has smoke damage…
There are tons of people with similar questions after the recent hurricanes. And every day, families suffer individual tragedies when their homes burn down or nearby rivers flood. How do you handle insurance when disaster strikes?
What to Do When Filing an Insurance Claim
As it happens, last year I bookmarked a question on Reddit from a family that lost everything in a fire. One of the replies was from somebody who had inside info on how to get all you deserve when filing an insurance claim.
I used to be the guy who worked for insurance companies, and determined the value of every little thing in your house. The guy who would go head-to-head with those fire-truck-chasing professional loss adjusters. I may be able to help you not get screwed when filing your claim.
Our goal was to use the information you provided, and give the lowest damn value we can possibly justify for your item.
For instance, if all you say was “toaster” — we would come up with a [cheap] $4.88 toaster from Walmart, meant to toast one side of one piece of bread at a time. And we would do that for every thing you have ever owned.
His advice? Don't lie on your claim — that's illegal and could lead to bigger problems — but insist on being compensated with “like kind and quality” items. (He provides some specific examples in his post.) The more specific you can be, the better. If you know exact models, then name exact models. If you don't know the models but know an item had specific features, then be sure to request a replacement with those specific features.
When filing your claim, he says to list everything you can think of, even the mundane stuff. If you're writing up the shower in your bathroom, for instance, you might include:
- The shower curtain.
- The shower curtain liner.
- The shower curtain rings.
- The soap dispenser.
- The sponge loofah.
- The loofah holder.
- The shower caddy.
- All of the stuff in the shower caddy.
- And so on…
“I could probably keep thinking, and bring it up to about $400 for the contents of my shower,” the commenter writes. “Most people writing claims for a total loss wouldn't even bother with the shower (it's just some used soap and sponges) — and those people would be losing out on $400.”
For more expensive stuff, you'll need documentation. You can't just say you had a $2000 TV and expect the insurance company to provide you a new one. For the big-ticket items, you need to provide some sort of paper trail, preferably with receipts. If you don't have a paper trail, try to provide a photograph. (Maybe your expensive TV is in the background of your family's Christmas gathering from last year, for instance.)
If you need to file an insurance claim, I highly recommend reading this entire Reddit comment. It's full of good information.
The U.S. government has an entire website called Ready.gov, which is devoted to disaster preparedness and response. If you live in a high-risk area, you ought to take some time to browse through the advice and put some of it into practice. And if, like Amy, you've been hit by a catastrophic event recently, check out the recovering from disaster section.