If you have just been through a flooding, fire, or natural disaster and you have damage caused to your home or your belongings, it can be a traumatic emergency event. You feel anxious and worry. You may even feel helpless and overwhelmed. Who do you call? How do you even begin fixing the problem? How will you recover all the damaged or ruined documents? Who will replace / repair all the affected belongings? Are you protected by your insurance? This and many other questions might be going through your head right now. It is easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Stop. Relax. Take a moment to read through this Emergency Disaster Guide and make sure you are ready to tackle what may seem like an overwhelming task. We are here to help you. So, first things first, where do you start?
By utilizing the guide, you will be able to avoid dangers and other risks you are not yet aware of. If you feel overwhelmed, we are available to consult you and help you get through this traumatic event. As you work through this guide, take the time to check off each task as it is completed. You may skip any items that do not apply to your situation. If you get lost or stuck, call our emergency helpline for a free consultation and/or assessment.
Often when we feel stressed, we begin to make poor decisions. Some common symptoms you may feel right now are stress, anxiety, worry, anger, frustration, sadness, and hopelessness. These are all common reactions to disasters. They are also the primary reason why we make mistakes when trying to deal with such an overwhelming situation.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. HELP IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE.
Let’s start with the emergency checklist below to make sure you are not in any immediate danger. What you need to do immediately after a disaster:
If you have children, it’s important that you are aware of how they are reacting to the situation. They often have longer lasting trauma from emergency situations. Keep them out of the premises and focus on keeping them calm. Do not show panic as it may aggravate their situation even worse. Signs of children under stress include them becoming more withdrawn or trying to show extreme bravery, but really all they need now is reassurance. Focus on getting yourself and your family back into a safe situation. Most insurance policies include vehicle rentals, hotel accommodations, daily spending money due to inaccessibility to your belongings, and meal coverage while your home is uninhabitable. Take a moment now to read through your policy and make sure you understand what coverage you have. Check the insurance section below to better understand your options. Our Emergency Disaster Consultants can help you navigate your policy and give you a simplified detailed explanation of your coverage and options.
Do the following things as soon as possible after your property has been damaged or destroyed by the loss. Do them immediately and before you leave the property (where it’s safe to do so):
WARNING: Many of these steps should be handled by trained professionals. Depending on the severity level of the catastrophe, either Flood Tech Emergency Disaster Recovery Specialists or the fire department will assist you with securing the property. In some cases, the Fire Department will be securing the property for you (especially in cases of fires where potential re-ignition of flames are a risk).
If you were forced to leave the property due to a disaster, you will eventually want to go back in to retrieve your possessions and take proper stock of the damage. By dealing with an emergency restoration company like Flood Tech, they will make sure to document everything before and during the emergency service. This is important when dealing with the insurance company. There must always be properly documented proof readily accessible to validate your claim. Our documentation process will help expedite the claim and help avoid any processing delays.
The first thing you need to decide is how you plan to cover the expenses of the emergency service. This is the perfect time to review your insurance policy and understand what your coverage entitles you to. Here is what you need to know about your insurance coverage before making an informed decision:
Birth / Marriage / Death Certificate
Ministry of Transportation – Service Ontario
Your Insurance Company
Social Insurance Card
Your Family Doctor
Canada Pension Plan Papers
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Income Security Programs
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Your Lawyer that Drafted up the Will
Income Tax Records
Animal Permits / Licenses
Local Municipality Office / SPCA
Provincial Land Titles Office
Military Discharge Papers
Library and Archives Canada
Medical Service Plans
Work / Group Insurance Policy Issuer
Emergency Disaster Relief and Recovery – Red Cross Services
Canada Savings Bonds
Issuing Company or your Lawyer
When making an insurance claim, emergencies are broken down into separate claim categories.
Emergency service – It covers the dwelling and the service costs to stop the damage and clear out any water, smoke, damage. Once it is cleaned up, and ready to reconstruct, the emergency service is over.
Content loss – This involves any articles that got destroyed or damaged/contaminated. Some items get salvaged and restored while others are given a replacement value and paid out in the form of financial reimbursement.
Additional living expenses – It covers expenses incurred due to interruption in your life directly caused by the incident. For example, additional food expenses, lodging, and any other abnormal expenses you incur due to the incident are covered.
Repair and restoration – This involves rebuilding the damaged property.
Each of these categories has a claim limit per incident. There is also an overall incident limit for the entire claim. Depending on the extensiveness of the damage, you should always be aware of what limitations you face before making any claims. Often, it is necessary to consider what is worth claiming and what is not worth claiming.
To get paid out for an insurance claim, the adjuster will have to have photographs of everything that was affected by the damage. Sometimes getting photographs can be a challenge, other times impossible due to the damage being too severe. It is important that proper information is detailed and formatted as per your insurance company’s requirements. This step is very important as often, content is not properly handled and this leaves the owner with out-of-pocket losses. It is highly advisable that this step be handled by a professional content handling team. We will make sure to prepare the proper documentation to ensure every last item is accounted for and properly compensated for. Your insurance will cover the expense of this as well as the cost of handling the content. From furniture to clothing and electronics. Insurance companies reduce the value of the content due to depreciating value. This is why proper handling and documentation can help maximize the proper and true value of your belongings. If you have old items that were in immaculate condition, you deserve the proper reimbursement value. This is where our content specialists can help you recover a significant portion of your losses that often get undervalued at the end of the claim process.
When dealing with items of higher value, it is important to keep a “catalogue” of valuables stored in a safe place. This can be a small box which stores some of the following:
Without having some or all of these things, it can be challenging to prove that you owned these items if they get destroyed during the disaster.
Insurance companies send out adjusters to review and authorize the claim you submit to your insurance company. Their primary goal is to help validate what happened, what is covered, and what the insurance company is going to pay you out for. What most people often are unaware of, is that the adjuster works for the insurance company, not the insured. Their job is to reduce the costs to the insurance company. They are required to bring in a “preferred vendor” to provide a cost estimate for the service. You are always entitled to bring your own vendor in to do the work if you wish. Be warned though, the preferred vendor helps set a budget on the job and your own vendor will be required to work within those limits. When you bring your own vendor, you now become the person hiring the specialist and they work for your interest, not the insurance company. Having your vendor hired by you directly, your interests are prioritized which means you get the proper treatment and proper payment for your loss.
When it comes time to repair the property, the insurance company covers the expenses to bring it back to its previous state only. They will only authorize the same materials you have had in the past. Often this leaves outdated and hard to find materials that may not be suitable after so many years. If you had carpeted floors, then expect the same or close to the same to be reinstalled. This should be your moment to stop and consider how the living space served you before the incident, and how it can better serve you now. Upgrades and modifications to the previous space are usually the most common request from property owners when looking to restore major damage. Most insurance assigned vendors will be reluctant to alter the scope of work. By bringing in your own contractor, you can work with them directly on a budget and most times they will be willing to help provide newer and better materials at their vendor reduced pricing to help “upgrade” your space for virtually the same budget you have from the claim payout. You always have a right to decide how your property gets rebuilt. Sometimes there can be additional expenses incurred for upgrades, other times it’s as simple as moving electrical outlets or light switches around to better suit your needs. Regardless of your choice, always make sure that the work being done meets your personal needs, not those of the insurance company. Most importantly, remember that damage to water, sewer, power, or natural gas installations must be repaired under permit and inspected by the appropriate agency in order to be insurable in the future.
The damage is repaired, the construction is done, and you are now ready to move forward with your life and put the incident behind you. It is always advisable to consult on future preventative measures. Speak to one of our Emergency Disaster Recovery Consultants about the area you live in and what you need to know about the potential threats you may encounter. Flooding, bad plumbing, high water table, water main issues in local municipalities. These are all issues you need to be aware of and take preventative actions to protect yourself. Review your insurance policy and the coverage you have. Consider waterproofing your property among other reliable and effective preventative measures. If you are on a budget, talk to a professional, and prioritize the most critical actions you need to take to protect your property and loved ones. The most important thing to remember when dealing with emergencies: Take care of your health and always have a plan of action so that you are not caught in a dire situation in the future.