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Be prepared after a storm with photos, information

By Jessica Rodrigo
June 17, 2014 at 1:17 a.m.

If there is a storm in the Crossroads, it's possible insurance agents will feel the impact, too.

Nancy Walraven, agent at Pfeil Insurance Agency Inc. in Port Lavaca, remembers when Hurricane Claudette hit the area.

The agents hand wrote claims and delivered them to the company for processing, she said.

"We didn't have power, so we didn't have Internet. We were down, too," Walraven said.

Being prepared to make a claim or contact with an insurance company is key after a big storm hits. Hurricane season continues through Nov. 30.

If an evacuation is ordered, she said people need to have copies of insurance information on hand, including the 800-number in case phones are down.

"It's good to have policy numbers, too," she said. "That way, the company doesn't have to take all the extra time to look up the information."

Keeping copies of documents in a safe box or a place other than their home can help, especially if residents aren't able to return immediately following an evacuation, she said.

"First, you have to see if you have damage," she said, which includes automobiles, businesses, home and personal property.

The second thing is to make sure property doesn't incur more damage, Walraven said. Cover holes with boards or tarps to protect other property and remove valuable items from the scene that could be damaged, she said.

Taking photos of the property before and after an emergency can help a claims adjuster and insurance agents process the claim.

"It can help move things along with the adjuster, and it helps to remember what is there," Walraven said.

Once the damage has been recorded in photos or video, homeowners can begin to handle the damage but are advised not to throw anything away, she said. Adjusters will need to see the damage when they arrive at the property.

Making a list of the damage and listing the severity may expedite the process, too, she said.

If a storm hits, there will be a lot going on between adjusters and insurance agents, she said, so the easier a property owner can make it for them, the faster the process can move along.

It's hard to know when insurance claims will be awarded, she said, but it's important to send as much information to the insurance company as possible.

"The longer you sit on it, the worse it's going to be," Walraven said. "Your damage could be getting worse."

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