If you were evacuated from your home, stay up-to-date about circumstances and events in your area by tuning into your local radio or television station - or checking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website. Some roads may be unsafe or impassable, so it's best to wait for the green light from local officials before starting your trek back home.
When you do make it home, use extreme caution when moving through your house. High-speed winds, wildfires, or floodwaters may have caused serious damage, even if things look fine on the surface. Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to make sure your home is still structurally sound, and check for fire hazards like broken gas lines, flooded electrical circuits or submerged appliances. If you suspect you may have a gas leak, leave the building and turn off the gas immediately. If you are unfamiliar with electrical components in your home, contact an expert.
If you determine that your home is unsafe to live in until repairs are made, your local American Red Cross office can help you find living space in the short term. If you require long-term options, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Housing Portal can help you find rental housing. Regardless of where you have to stay, your insurance policy may provide for additional living expenses if your home is unlivable due to a covered loss. Talk to your local Allstate agent to find out if your policy has this provision. Hold on to any receipts.
Once you identify the damage to your home, it can be tempting to start repairs right away. However, it's important that you talk to your insurance agent before starting any work to make sure that work is covered. Most Allstate homeowner's insurance policies offer reimbursements for temporary repairs that prevent further loss or damage to covered property. So be sure to save your receipts!
When it's time to start any major repairs, picking the right contractor is critical. There are several options out there, so it's important to do your research before making a final decision. Follow these simple tips to get the best service available in your area:
- Look for construction contractors who are bonded and insured. While this isn't a requirement for operation in all states, it will provide you with an extra layer of security.
- Search for the contractor's business name on sites like Yelp, Angie's List and the Better Business Bureau to find out if former customers have had positive or negative experiences.
- Get more than one bid before making your final decision, and don't automatically go with the cheapest one. A higher bid might mean more experience and better materials.
- Ask for references. Be sure to ask previous customers whether the work was completed on time, if they were satisfied with the end result and if the contractor was responsive to their requests.
- Avoid payment-in-full upfront. Some contractors may require a partial upfront payment, which should not exceed 20% of the total estimate amount.
With Allstate, you never need to face a natural disaster alone. So, if you have questions, you can talk to one of our insurance specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-ALLSTATE (1-800-255-7828). If you need specialized assistance, call one of our catastrophe claim specialists during regular business hours at 1-800-54-STORM (1-800-547-8676).
Published: November 2011