No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, there’s no doubt that you have experience some rough weather lately. Severe lightning, high winds, heavy downpours, and even a fair number of tornados have stuck our region causing damage to homes, businesses, and property.
Once the sky clears and the sun comes up, it’s time to survey the damage. It can be a challenging and emotional time, but how can you make sure that you are taking the steps necessary to avoid being scammed when it’s time to rebuild?
Obviously the first thing to do is make sure everyone is safe and accounted for – and that they stay that way. There is no building or item that is worth risking your life and well-being for. As they say, it can all be replaced but you only have one life. Sometimes the clean-up can be just as treacherous as the storm itself. So always take care.
If possible, start taking pictures. Document as much as possible. This is actually something you should do BEFORE a storm. Having photos of your home both outside and inside can be valuable proof that any damage was indeed caused by the storm and wasn’t there beforehand. This can help speed up insurance claims.
After the storm, walk around the entire property and take as many shots as you can at all angles. In this case, more photos are better than less! Take pictures of everything.
Obviously you are going to want to contact your insurance company immediately. Ask about policy coverage and what requirements are needed to file a claim. Save all your receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
When it is time to start the actual rebuilding, do your research. Make sure your contractor is licensed, reliable, and comes with references. Be sure to check with your local builders association to find a list of members and then follow up to make sure you have the best people doing the job for you.
It goes without saying that you should always be wary of the door-to-door contractors who seem to pop up whenever there is a tragedy. Again, do your research and make sure that anyone who is going to do work for you is a professional.
Never sign over an insurance check to anyone. Doing that could sign away your rights to any insurance claims. Always ask for an invoice from a contractor and pay them directly. If possible, pay with a credit card since that could offer you additional fraud protection.
These are just a few suggestions for helping you get through a trying time. Spring and summer are tricky times in Pennsylvania where the weather can turn on a dime. Be alert and heed the advice of forecasters.
Stay safe and always be prepared for the next step.