Public Adjuster Tips to Protect Your Hurricane Idalia Flood Insurance Claim

Public Adjuster Tips to Protect Your Hurricane Idalia Flood Insurance Claim

Based on current forecasts, it appears Hurricane Idalia will create significant flooding from Sarasota to St. Petersburg and especially into Tampa Bay the likes that this Florida public adjuster has not seen. Storm surge coinciding with a full moon and high tides may produce some surprises and property owners should prepare for the worst. In addition, embedded tornadoes and significant wind gusts are always in the mix. The time to prepare is now. And should you experience damage, you want to do everything you can to protect your property insurance claim.  

Experiencing a flood in your home or business can be distressing, and the aftermath can often be overwhelming. One of the critical steps post-flood is to document the damage for insurance claims accurately. Proper documentation not only helps in maximizing your claim benefits but also ensures a smoother claims process. Here are the best tips to help you document and prepare a flood insurance claim effectively.

  1. Act Promptly: Start the documentation process as soon as it's safe. The sooner you begin, the fresher the details will be in your mind, and the more accurate your records will be.
  2. Stay Safe: Before entering any flooded area, ensure it's safe. Turn off electricity and gas lines to avoid potential hazards. If you're uncertain about the structural integrity, consult professionals before entering.
  3. Know Your Policy: Familiarize yourself with your flood insurance policy. Understand the limits, deductibles, and provisions. This will help you know what to expect and be prepared for discussions with the adjuster.
  4. Photograph and Video Everything: Capture all affected areas, including walls, floors, furniture, and personal belongings. Try to get wide shots that show the full extent of the damage and close-ups of specific items. Videos can provide a walk-through perspective that photos might miss.
  5. Keep Damaged Items: Do not dispose of any damaged items until after the adjuster has had an opportunity to inspect them. If disposing of items for health reasons (like moldy carpet), make sure you've adequately documented them with photos and descriptions.
  6. Maintain a Written Record: Along with photos and videos, keep a written record of damaged items. Note down the item's description, purchase date, estimated value, and any receipts if available.
  7. Document Structural and Utility Damage: Write down or photograph any structural issues, water line marks on walls, and damage to utilities or systems like HVAC.
  8. Report your property damage: Call your insurance company and report your damage as soon as possible. Insurance carriers receive about 50% of the claims they handle from major catastrophes within the first two weeks after the storm. In order to help expedite your claim, you want to get the process going ASAP! Keep a detailed written dialogue with your insurance company every step of the way. Keeping an open line of communication ensures that you're in the loop about what's required and what the next steps are.
  9. Screen contractors: Obtain repair quotes from licensed professionals. This will give you an idea of the repair costs and act as a point of reference when discussing the claim amount with the insurance adjuster. Make sure to work with local and licensed contractors. Don’t get price gouged! Often times during catastrophes, out of state or even non-licensed contractors flood the area to drum up work. This can be detrimental to you during your claims process. Don’t be afraid to ask for their license and a copy of their liability insurance so you know they are legitimate. A little bit of research can go a long way to ensure that you are hiring the right people. Be very careful not to sign what is called an Assignment of Benefits agreement or clause in some contracts. You may be signing away the control and rights to any settlement monies from your claim.
  10. Keep a Log of Conversations: Every time you speak with someone from the insurance company, jot down the date, time, person's name, and a summary of the conversation. Create an email or text string of these conversations.
  11. Maintain Receipts for Additional Living Expenses: If you need to stay elsewhere because your home is uninhabitable, keep receipts for hotel stays, meals, and other related expenses. Many flood insurance policies cover these additional living expenses.
  12. Seek Professional Assistance: Consider hiring a licensed Florida public adjuster if you're overwhelmed by the claims process or feel that your insurance provider isn't offering a fair settlement. They can assist in documenting the loss and negotiating with the insurance company. After a major storm, insurance company adjusters are swamped with work. Often times, field adjusters rush through inspections to get as many done as quickly as they can and can miss reporting damage the insurance company should be paying for. This practice does not benefit you in your time of need. Hiring a Florida public adjuster ensures that your damage is properly documented and submitted to avoid mistakes and a fair settlement is negotiated so you are fairly paid for your claim. In addition, NFIP and private flood policies have their own coverage rules that can be confusing. After a disaster, having someone advocating for you can help relieve the stress and allow you to focus on more personal things.
  13. Stay Organized: We tell our clients to prepare a binder or a digital folder, to organize photos, receipts, estimates, communication logs, and any other relevant paperwork. This will prove invaluable if your claim runs into delay or denial issues.  Keep all related documents in one place. This will be incredibly helpful when you're discussing your claim with the adjuster.

In conclusion, while dealing with a flood can be a trying experience, being meticulous and organized in documenting the damage can significantly simplify the insurance claims process. Remember, the goal is to restore your property and life to normalcy as swiftly as possible, and a well-documented claim can play a crucial role in achieving that. So it is critical to manage expectations, document damage before you make repairs, seek written approval from the insurance company for any repair decision you make and most important of all, check qualifications and licensure for any professionals you decide to hire.   

If you have questions regarding any property insurance claim related to Hurricane Idalia, please call our main Tampa Bay office at 813.287-8090 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster insurance claim experts. For more information visit for Claim Tips and follow our On-Property Blog.

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"On Property" Insurance Claim Tips Blog

Tips and advice about how to properly file and protect your property damage insurance claim and get a fair settlement. We invite all readers to ask questions about their claim so our public adjusters can post answers for others to benefit. Insurance claim expert guest bloggers welcome to submit posts via our contact form.


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Tutwiler & Associates Public Adjusters, Inc.
Licensed Public Insurance Adjusters & Loss Consultants
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Phone: 813.287.8090
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