For the first time since 1999, residents of the South Carolina coast were urged to evacuate in advance of Hurricane Matthew. Many people packed up and headed north, using the time for a mini-vacation or to visit friends and relatives. Others stayed behind, content to see first-hand just how hard Matthew would be on the Charleston area.
Many people returned home to find their homes intact – no missing shingles, no flooded first floor and no tree hanging out the second-floor window. Unfortunately, others up and down the coast of South Carolina as well as into Florida, Georgia and North Carolina weren’t so lucky. Entire homes were flooded, destroyed by hurricane storm surge and overflowing rivers.
California-based analytics firm CoreLogic estimates insured property losses for both residential and commercial properties from Hurricane Matthew are estimated to be between $4 billion and $6 billion. And that’s just the damage from wind and storm surge. That doesn’t include the damage from flooding, business interruption and loss of contents of homes and businesses.
In the aftermath, comes the process of filing insurance claims and working to get the needed financial support to rebuild, make repairs or even move on to a new home.
- For damage not caused by flooding, contact your homeowners insurance company immediately to start the claims process. It’s also a good idea to review your policy before you make that call (especially if you haven’t done so recently). You want to understand what’s covered – and not covered – so you’re not facing any surprises about your homeowners insurance in South Carolina.
- For flood damage claims, contact your flood insurance company immediately. The flood insurance claims process may take longer as it’s managed by the federal government. Plus the size and scope of the damage is usually more severe and expensive.
- Document every step of the process. Set aside one notebook, folder or computer file dedicated to making notes on every call with the insurance company. Be sure to note the date and time of the call as well as the name of the insurance agent or representative as well as any file or case number. Even make a note of the agent or adjuster’s demeanor. If they are rude and dismissive, write it down. Should you encounter any disputes later, having this written record will be critical.
- Keep all the receipts from any temporary or emergency repairs you had to make before receiving any insurance money. Most likely you’ll get reimbursed for the expenses, but only if you have proof of the repairs.
- Take lots of photos. In the rush to evacuate, people don’t always think to take photos prior to the storm. But definitely photograph damage after the fact — everything from broken windows and ruined hardwood floors to damaged furniture and electronics.
- Be patient. Homeowners insurance companies typically will work to get customers a check as quickly as possible. But in the aftermath of a hurricane, the wait time for your check may be longer than usual as the company is dealing with an above-average number of claims.
- Get flood insurance in South Carolina. If you do not have flood insurance, think very
seriously about purchasing a separate flood policy. Even if your home sustained little to no flood damage, Hurricane Matthew is a reminder of what’s possible when a major storm with sustained rainfall can do. Flood insurance policies are typically less than $1,000 a year and can be a lifesaver in the case of a major flooding incident.
Major weather events like Hurricane Matthew are reminders that we need to be prepared. Review your insurance policies regularly, take time to document information about your home and its contents and ensure you are adequately covered. Hurricane season is almost over, thankfully, but there’s a good chance another storm will be rolling onto the South Carolina coast next
Learn more about Manning Insurance Services’ in Homeowner and Coastal Insurance Policies.