What to do when you return home to hurricane damage

Damage in Collier County. (Photo via viewer Kimberly Effert)

FORT MYERS, Fla. Hurricane Irma may be gone, but Southwest Floridians still have to take measures to protect their homes.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer has advice for those returning to homes damaged by Hurricane Irma:

  • Carefully assess your home and property for damage once it’s safe to do so. As soon as you are able, take pictures of any damage. These photos will be helpful when filing an insurance claim. Maintain copies of your household inventory and other documentation. This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.
  • Contact your insurance company directly as soon as possible to file a claim for any damage. Insurance adjusters have already been deployed into impacted areas to help manage your claims.
  • Do not allow a third party, such as a water remediation firm or contractor to contact your insurance company for you.
  • If you are asked to sign an Assignment of Benefits form by a contractor, make sure you read it carefully and understand clearly what rights and benefits under your insurance policy you may be signing away. You do not need to sign the document to get your insurance claim processed or your home repaired.
  • Signing over your insurance benefits to a contractor may mean you’re on the hook for additional costs. Make sure you stay in control of the home insurance policy you bought and paid for – and do not sign away that control to a third party who may not have your best interests at heart.
  • When possible, take steps to make temporary repairs that can help prevent further damage from occurring. Keep your receipts for any repairs or supplies you purchase. You may be reimbursed as part of your claim.

Find more information on the website of Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, including resources on FEMA assistance. More recovery resources are available at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.