- Recovering From Disaster: Cleanup Efforts and Your Safety
- Disaster Recovery Resources: Declared Disasters, FEMA and Community Resources
As you recover, we thought it would be helpful to share several questions and answers you may have regarding claims, cleanup and post-storm resources.
Q: I am in urgent need of advance payments or emergency funds. How can I request an advance?
A: If you need an advance payment for living expenses or an emergency situation, please talk to your local agent about expedited payment options. You can also request an advance when you file your claim. To begin the claims process, call our 24-hour claim reporting hotline at 1.800.333.2860, or visit the claims page from your PC or smartphone. Please be sure to let us know of your urgent needs when you report your claim. If you have already filed your claim, you can send a status message from your mobile device or PC. Provide us with your claim number and your request for an advance, and a member of our claims team will respond.
Q: If my home and property weren't severely damaged, should I wait to file my claim until others with more significant damage have had the opportunity?
A: With severe natural disasters, the extent of damage can vary greatly. Some of our policyholders affected by major storms have indicated they were reluctant to immediately report their claim because other homes and business in the community sustained more significant damage. These policyholders were patient because they wanted to make sure those more adversely affected received help first. However, when you experience a loss, regardless of the extent of damage, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. We are here to help you. In the event of a disaster, you could be eligible for federal assistance. Failure to immediately file a claim with us could affect your eligibility for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual and Household Program.
Q: How do I begin the claims process for my damaged home and/or automobile?
A: There are several ways to begin the claims process:
- Talk to your local agent.
- Call our 24-hour claim-reporting hotline at 1.800.333.2860.
- Report your claim through a PC or smartphone by visiting the claims page.
Q: My residence is currently unlivable. How should I begin the repair and/or rebuilding process?
A: Naturally, you will want to prevent further damage to your property if it is safe and feasible to do so. Please wait to have damage repaired so we can inspect the property, unless immediate action is needed to prevent further damage. If you must make emergency repairs to prevent further damage, please do your best to document the damage prior to repair.
Save your receipts. Your claim representative will want to review receipts and other documents related to the loss to determine how your policy coverage may apply to the situation.
If your residence is unlivable due to a damaged appliance, such as an air conditioner, hot water heater or heating unit, and you need to repair or replace one or more, please make sure to keep all parts for inspection by the insurance company.
For more information regarding specific scenarios you may face after a storm, and how to deal with them from an insurance standpoint, read our property claims FAQs.
Q: Once I have filed a claim, my home has been inspected and repairs have been approved, how do I select a contractor to complete the work?
A: As you take steps to mitigate your loss or begin repairs or reconstruction, please take caution in selecting your contractor.
Here are some things to consider in selecting a contractor:
- Look for an established, licensed or bonded contractor. Ask for references and take the time to call them.
- Ask to see certificates of insurance. Make sure that both liability and workers' compensation insurance coverage are carried and in-force while work is being done.
- Insist on a detailed, written estimate that clearly states the quantity of materials needed, labor charges, work specifications (including approximate starting and completion dates) and payment procedures.
- Carefully review and understand any warranty, and watch for conditions that would void it.
- Be skeptical about lowest bids or those considerably lower than others written for the same job. Many contractors seem attractive because of low bids; however, they may be uninsured and might perform substandard work. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Contact your local Better Business Bureau to check for complaints filed against the contractor.
Q: The storm damaged or destroyed my vehicle. How do I repair or replace it?
A: If you believe your vehicle was damaged or destroyed, please provide us with the vehicle's last location, mileage, basic details and options on the vehicle when you submit your claim.
Our field staff will inspect and confirm if the vehicle is a total loss. We will have vehicles moved to a secure storage facility, or FEMA may move the vehicle as part of disaster recovery efforts.
If you have rental coverage, please be aware that rental options are limited due to the nature of this storm. Please review your policy coverages with your claims representative when you report your claim. If you do rent a replacement vehicle, please advise us. Your policy has specific limitations regarding rental cars and trucks.
For more information about the auto claims process, please read our auto claims FAQs.
Q: What community, non-profit and government resources are available to me during my time of need?
A: Immediately after significant weather events, we are proud to be one of your first contacts. At American National, we consider it a sign of the trust in our agents and company that our policyholders contact us as soon as everyone is safe and authorities have been contacted. That being said, we also consider it our "first responder" responsibility to help you understand the abundance of resources that will ultimately help you begin rebuilding your life and your home.
After a disaster, your community may offer valuable resources such as temporary shelter, clothing or food. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, United Way and other charitable organizations also offer resources to those impacted by disaster.
In some situations, you may also be eligible for federal assistance. For example, in the event of a Presidential disaster declaration, FEMA may provide financial assistance in certain areas. Please note that failure to immediately file a claim with us could affect your eligibility for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual and Household Program. If necessary, FEMA can also provide disaster assistance to eligible individuals and households who have necessary expenses and serious needs and are unable to meet such expenses or needs through other means. The current status of Federal Disaster Declarations can be found at the FEMA website.
These are just a few of the many relief resources that are available to you:
- FEMA: www.fema.gov or call 1-800-745-0243
- American Red Cross: www.redcross.org
- Salvation Army: www.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY
- United Way: www.liveunited.org
Q: If I have debris to clean up, or I want to volunteer to help a community impacted by the storms, what safety precautions do you recommend?
A: Whenever our country sustains natural disasters, it is not uncommon for volunteers to flock to the scene to help with disaster cleanup and recovery efforts - even before emergency management officials have a chance to devise a strategy for organizing the support. Those impacted by the storm will also be working diligently to recover their belongings and prevent further damage from occurring. While these efforts are commendable and ultimately necessary to return communities to normal, the debris and aftermath of storms can create potentially hazardous situations, which are not often the primary consideration when disaster has occurred. Consider your personal safety while you are volunteering or cleaning up your own property. Stepping in to help without proper preparation might cause responders to have to rescue you as a volunteer. We recommend reading a few safety tips before you begin cleanup work.
American National takes a personal interest in helping our clients through life's most difficult times. If there is anything that we can do to help you in your time of need, please let us know. We will do all that we can to help you sort through the process of repairing and rebuilding.