Homeowner How To: What to do Before & After Your Insurance Claim


Before you get started, contact your insurance company and make sure they have documented all the damages and have the information they need to complete your claim.

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Many Long Island homeowners are facing the unexpected consequences of dealing with major home repairs due to Hurricane Sandy. The damages from this storm have been estimated at $30 billion to $50 billion and many, many lives have been changed forever. Putting your life back together and rebuilding after a storm like this can be completely overwhelming.

If you have chosen to rebuild your home, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

While insurance can help you get your life back in order, these claims may take a while to process. Government loans and financial assistance may come with lots of red tape, and disaster relief from the government is generally short lived. But getting things rolling as soon as possible is often not only necessary but advantageous.

Repairs from a storm like Sandy will vary from relatively minor siding and roofing repair, to severe storm damage which will probably involve the need to completely gut the walls, flooring and insulation in your home. 

If you have had flood damage, chances are you can’t wait for the insurance claim to be settled to get started. Removing the saturated sheetrock, flooring and insulation is best done immediately to prevent further damages and mold growth. Leaving this to sit can lead to toxic, dangerous mold growth and increased repair costs.

Before you get started, contact your insurance company and make sure they have documented all the damages and have the information they need to complete your claim.

Be sure to use a credit card to keep track of your repair expenses.

Next, prioritize your repairs. The most urgent are items that have the potential to increase damage to your home. For instance, if your roof has a hole in it you should repair that before starting to replace walls, flooring or cosmetic damages. Any damage that puts your home at risk for further water damage or exposure to the elements should be addressed immediately.

When your settlement does come through, you should immediately repay what you have spent to date on the costs of repairs. Have a budget in mind before you get it and allocate your settlement to make sure your out of pocket costs are covered. 

If you have thought of making changes to the interior of your home or re-designing your space, now would be the time to do it. Take advantage of your local professional’s wisdom and knowledge. Turning to a professional kitchen and bath designer, interior designer or architect can help you figure out the best way to proceed with your rebuild; they can help to take advantage of the space in ways that you may never have thought of.

Re-designing your space while your walls are open, upgrading to a larger electrical service panel than you had, or phasing the work in stages now to achieve your dream home down the road, is smart and will save you money. The cost of a hiring design firm is probably less than you think and well worth it. You may be able to easily gain interior space or create a better layout than you previously had and give your home much more resale value with a great design plan. Generally, changing plumbing and electrical locations can be easily done and is much less expensive while the walls are open. A professional’s knowledge will help you to make smart decisions, keep more of your money and get a fantastic new home!

Whatever money is left over from the settlement after you finish your repairs can be used to pay down any outstanding debt you may have. So take this opportunity to refinance your life if you can. Not only is this a good investment in your future but it can help to increase your credit score. With a better credit score, you can expect lower rates which will help you save money in the long term.

Be smart and savvy; use your settlement wisely and you can get a great new home and invest in your financial future. See, I told you there was light at the end of this tunnel!