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Superstorm Sandy was the third destructive storm to hit the East Coast in 14 months. The property destruction and interruption of business operations caused by the storm and the potential for storm-related losses during the winter are reminders of the importance of having insurance and understanding what to do in the event of an insured loss.
• Locate and review all potentially applicable insurance policies. To properly evaluate whether a particular loss is covered, the terms of all policies need to be reviewed. The policyholder must verify that they possess a complete copy of all potentially applicable policies. If your business or personal policy was lost in the storm, or you are unable to locate the policy, contact your insurance agent or insurance broker to obtain copies. Even if you did not suffer a loss caused by the recent storm, now is a good time to review your insurance program with your insurance counselor, broker or agent to verify that you are adequately insured against future losses.
• Promptly notify the insurance company of a loss. Policyholders must provide notice of a loss to their insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies have a specific time limit for reporting losses, while others may require notice “promptly,” “as soon as possible” or “as soon as practicable” after a loss. If a policyholder fails to comply with the policy terms governing notice of a loss, the policyholder may be barred from recovery under the policy.
• Document the losses. Policyholders should photograph and document all storm-related losses. Policyholders should not make any substantive repairs to the damaged property without the consent of their insurance company unless the repairs are necessary to prevent further loss. Policyholders should maintain receipts for any repairs made to the property or for the purchase of supplies used to prevent further loss. Keep records of all communications with the insurance company while a claim is being processed.