How to Deal with Your Insurance Company After a Natural Disaster


The unprecedented scale of wildfires along North America’s west coast this year led to red skies and a haze of smoke affecting communities thousands of miles away. Unfortunately, these fires are also a bleak look at what may be in store for the future. Natural disasters are predicted to happen more frequently in the years ahead, including wildfires, floods, and hurricanes.

Disasters like these can be terrifying to live through. They threaten human lives and destroy whole communities while doing tremendous damage to property.

As wildfires and floods become more dangerous to homeowners, more and more people find themselves filing insurance claims to restore damage and rebuild after a terrible loss. If you live in an area that’s at high risk, you should know what it’s like dealing with your insurance company after a natural disaster and how you can make sure you receive a fulsome settlement.

Photo by Joanne Francis on Unsplash

Insurers Can Quickly Become Overburdened

Unlike a single case of basement flooding or a kitchen fire, natural disasters can affect entire communities and even regions. There are only so many insurers in each region, and they may be overwhelmed by cases.

You want to enlist the help of an insurance lawyer to make sure your case gets the attention it deserves. An insurance lawyer can provide similar assistance to that of a public adjuster, but they also bring greater knowledge of contract law and can handle dispute negotiations if your case comes to it.

Replacement Costs May Be Higher than Anticipated

Another factor to consider is that replacement costs may be higher than you expected. Even if your insurance policy was accurately assessed to cover the replacement costs of your home, when whole neighborhoods are impacted, demand for construction workers and materials rises. That can mean your replacement costs are higher and may exceed your limits.

This makes it imperative that you receive the full settlement to which you are entitled.

Four Coverage Areas to Your Policy

In the wake of a natural disaster, there are four distinct coverage areas in your policy. Each section is treated separately, with its own limits.

1) Mass Evacuation Insurance: The expenses incurred during a mass evacuation order are covered by this part of your policy. Expenses include transportation, staying in a hotel, and additional food costs beyond your usual expenditure.

2) Additional Living Expenses: This covers more or less the same expenses as Mass Evacuation Insurance, but kicks in after the order has been lifted, and only if your home is uninhabitable. It will also cover a temporary rental.

3) Personal Contents: This section provides funds for you to replace or repair personal belongings destroyed by the disaster. This includes furniture, electronics, clothing, etc. – even food can be included.

4) Structure/Dwelling: This covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding the structure of your home itself. It may be used to rebuild the entire home or only those parts that were damaged.

A natural disaster is a tough thing to live through, but your insurance coverage should help you rebuild and recover.