Hurricanes are nothing new to those of us living in the Gulf Coast region. But that doesn’t mean we get used to the devastation and heartbreak they leave behind. And the financial impact of storms like Hurricane Ida can be as large as the emotional one. But there is hope — and help. Your partners at Hancock Whitney are right here in your local community, actively lending a hand as we all work together to recover from Hurricane Ida. We hope you’ll find the tips below useful.
What to know about filing insurance claims
Depending on the damage you’ve suffered, you may need to file claims for several separate insurance policies, possibly including:
- Homeowners or renters insurance for hurricane-related damage and loss not associated with flooding
- Flood insurance, if you have it, for flood-specific damage and loss; you can file a claim with the National Flood Insurance Program
- Automobile insurance
- Business insurance
Take photos or video of all damage and make a list of damaged and lost items to share with your insurer. Contractors can give you repair estimates; and you can research online to estimate replacement cost for personal property. Don’t start repairs or throw out damaged items until you’ve documented everything and an insurance adjuster has given you the go-ahead.
Read your policies or talk with your insurance agent to understand your deductible and what is and isn’t likely to be covered. Since all damage might not be evident immediately, ask if you can add to your claim later. Also check whether you have coverage for additional living expenses, which can help you pay for things like a hotel stay while your home is repaired, food, transportation, basic clothing and personal care.
Be sure to keep notes on all interactions with the insurance company, and save all receipts for repairs, clean-up and other storm-related expenses.
Understand insurance payments
Your insurer may choose to send you an advance on your claim payment so you can begin essential repairs. You’ll then get a separate check later for the remaining amount.
Claims checks will typically be made out to all parties with a financial interest in the property. That can include both yourself and a spouse or partner if you own the home together, and the lender if you have a mortgage. Everyone on the check will have to endorse it before it can be cashed. In some cases, your lender may opt to put the money into an escrow account to pay for repairs as they’re completed. You may want to call your lender to learn about their process.
Contractors you hire may ask you to sign a form allowing them to be paid directly by the insurance company. Read the form closely and ask your insurance agent if you have questions.
Find financial assistance
If you don’t have insurance, you may need financial assistance to help with life expenses, recovery and repairs. Even if you have insurance, you may need to cover a deductible, the payment may not cover all your needs or you may need to pay contractors before you receive your money. If you need financial assistance, here are some resources you can check:
- Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) – disaster assistance and list of additional resources to help with home repair, hazard mitigation, medical care and more
- U.S. Small Business Administration – you may be eligible for a low-interest disaster loan for expenses not covered by insurance or FEMA
- hancockwhitney.com/ida – information on consumer and small business disaster recovery assistance loans and loan deferral requests for your personal or small business loan, line or credit card, or your residential mortgage
- Other creditors may also have disaster relief options
Stretch your budget
To help make the most of the funds you have, prioritize the repairs you need to make. Start by categorizing them based on importance. Repairs that will allow you to live in your home or that will prevent further damage typically should take top priority. For instance, to help prevent mold issues, remove all wet flooring, wall coverings and sheetrock as soon as it’s safe and the insurer gives the okay.
Also consider making easier emergency repairs now while you wait to get on a contractor’s schedule or for an insurance claim check to arrive. For instance, you can tarp over a damaged roof so your home stays dry until it can be fully repaired or replaced.
As you have repairs done, consider making stormproof upgrades if you can, to help reduce damage from future storms. For example, you might add hurricane shutters, update to a stronger roof or have your home elevated.
To help make room in your budget for repair costs not covered by insurance, review your budget to see where you can cut back. For instance, you may want to temporarily suspend a streaming service subscription or gym membership to free up those funds.
Here for you
Even as the winds drop and flood waters recede, it’s normal to continue feeling shock, numbness, anger and grief. Give yourself time out from recovery mode to allow these emotions to flow. And know that we are here to help any way we can.
This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Hancock Whitney encourages you to consult an insurance professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.