- Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a detailed description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the site.
- If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property. Visual documentation will help with the claims process and can assist the adjuster in the investigation.
- Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make two copies—one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost. (Go to KnowYourStuff.org for free, Web-based software to help you prepare your inventory.)
- Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that can assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.
- Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred by making temporary repairs.
- Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home or business from a licensed contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
- If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep a record of all expenses, such as hotel and restaurant receipts.