When you look at the chaos after a natural disaster hits your home or business property, financial and other concerns certainly arise quickly. In a time of crisis, it is hard to focus on gathering the records you need for recovery from your insurance company.
Our Broward County property damage lawyers advise property owners on the types of records to collect before disaster strikes — and how to make sure the information is readily available when needed.
Property Insurance Policy Information is Not Enough
Your first thoughts will naturally turn to filing a property insurance claim so you can get repairs underway. As explained in Section 4 of the Florida Department of Financial Services Homeowners’ Insurance Toolkit, it is critical after a storm to have information readily available regarding:
- Insurance issues: Other issues of life do not stop when property is damaged or destroyed. In addition to property or rental insurance policy information, it is equally vital to have the ability to point to separate flood insurance policies, as well as health, life and auto insurance.
- Ongoing financial issues: Few lenders or other parties are likely to consider property destruction as justification for avoiding paying the mortgage, utilities, loans or spousal and child support for any length of time after a disaster. You need an accessible list of your ongoing financial obligations and contact information so you can work with everyone who expects payments from you or your business.
- Income and tax information needed for new loans and financial assistance: Property owners can potentially qualify for post-disaster financial assistance, provided they can document their financial status. It is important to keep a list of all sources of income, documented with recent pay stubs when possible. The prior year’s tax returns can also provide this information.
Backups of All Information are Essential
It is good to have all this information in one place for easy access at the time of disaster, but if that place happens to be in the middle of destroyed property, it will not be of much help. The good news is that individuals and businesses now rely on electronic record-keeping. In most cases, a single thumb drive can hold everything you need.
Of course, duplicate copies including off-site storage away from the disaster area is recommended. Whether you store the information using cloud-based backup or send electronic files to one or more out-of-state relatives or partners, you need to make sure it is safe, while being quickly accessible. Also, if the files are in paper form and cannot be stored electronically, they should be copied and stored safely on-site in weatherproof, watertight containers as well as off-site.
Having the right information available is essential, but is only the first step. Knowing how to use those documents to your advantage after sustaining major property damage is just as critical. Call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form to get the guidance and support needed to return to normal as quickly as possible following a loss.