What to do in the event of a disaster: 10 steps to follow

Fire? Water damage? Your home is uninhabitable due to a disaster, and you don’t know where to start? These 10 steps will help you get through the process of compensation and temporary relocation.

1. Contact your insurer quickly

Explain the situation and its consequences to your insurer. Have your damage insurance policy on hand; this will speed up the process. An expert appointed by your insurer will investigate the cause and estimate the damage, but a description from you will facilitate the process.

This is the expert who, in the event of a disaster, will guide you through the claim process.

2. Limit further damage

At the same time as you contact your insurer, you must try to limit the damage. Be careful not to make a final repair until you have discussed it with your broker.

For example, in the event of water damage, mop up as quickly as possible, to prevent mold. If soiled or wet furniture or objects need to be discarded, take pictures and keep a descriptive list.

3. Secure the premises and do the emergency work

To avoid further damage, some emergency work may need to be done. Look for a disaster restoration company. Ascertain precisely what they will do and what the cost will be before giving them the go-ahead. Similarly, you should always confirm with your claims adjuster before proceeding with any work.

Homme en train de poser un contre-plaqué pour couvrir une fenêtre à l’extérieur
You must obtain your claims adjuster's permission before starting emergency work.

4. Check the extent of your protections

The claims adjuster will explain the protections provided for in your home insurance policy and the steps to follow. You may be entitled to additional living expenses if, for example, you have to leave your home.

Keep all receipts for expenses incurred as a result of the disaster, as they may be refunded to you.

5. Help identify the cause of the disaster

The expert will validate your initial statement and may consult with specialists. You will help him by giving him the information or documents that could aid him in determining the cause of the disaster. Consider, for example, recent work or incidents in the neighbourhood following excavations or other elements that could have an impact.

In the event of a disaster, only the expert can confirm the admissibility of your claim.

6. Document your claim

It is your responsibility to properly document and justify your claim. Take inventory of damaged or destroyed belongings, with maximum evidence of possession (bills, photos, etc.). Include which belongings you want to recover and which ones seem unrecoverable.

Once again, only the expert can declare a good as a total loss. The sooner you submit your well-documented inventory, the sooner your claim will be processed.

7. Find a place to relocate while the work is being done

What to do in the event of a disaster that requires you to relocate temporarily? If your home is uninhabitable as a result of a fire, water damage, or other, « additional living expenses » coverage provides compensation to temporarily relocate you. It covers the extra cost of accommodation and meals, in excess of what it usually costs you at home.

In Quebec City and the greater Montreal area, there is a great supply of housing for all situations requiring relocation of more than 1 month. Various sizes of new fully equipped units are offered for a real turnkey service.

Find a place to live that will allow you to regain peace of mind and comfortably settle your claim. Be aware that you have the right to propose to your insurer places where you wish to reside. He will thus be able to select with you the best place of residence depending on your situation.

Logement Arrow Location
If you need to relocate after a disaster, you can opt for a new, high-end, fully furnished and fully equipped apartment, like the ones offered by Arrow.

8. Assigning your claim to a vendor: have control over your compensation

The contractor or post-disaster restorer may ask you to sign a « direction to pay » form. This allows the insurer to pay the vendor directly for the work done on your home.

This procedure simplifies the payment of vendors (and your life!), but is not mandatory and can make it difficult to keep an eye on the expenses related to the work. Keep some control by requiring that a maximum amount for the cost of the work be specified in the « direction to pay » form.

This way, you avoid signing a « blank cheque » and you can make sure that the work is carried out to your satisfaction before handing over the final payment.

9. Settlement further to a disaster

The claims adjuster has your inventory of damaged belongings. He can now calculate the proposed compensation based on the protections, limits and exclusions of your policy, among other things, the  « replacement value » or « depreciated value ».

If you have « replacement value » protection, your belongings will be repaired or replaced with a new item of the same nature and quality. If you choose not to repair or replace certain items, you will be compensated financially according to the value of the damaged belongings on the day of the disaster, thus taking into account their depreciation.

Read the settlement offer carefully and make sure that it’s right for you. If you have any inquiries, ask your questions in order to understand the settlement agreement.

Signature de contrat d’assurance
Always read documents and contracts carefully before signing the multiple agreements that will pass through your hands.

10. Payment of the compensation

Depending on the damage, payments are made throughout the settlement process as vendors submit their invoices. Pay attention and report your dissatisfaction, if any, to your insurer before they pay the service provider.

As for the deductible of your insurance policy, you have two options. If the value of the work does not exceed your insurance amount, your deductible will be deducted from the compensation. The insurer may also ask you to pay the service provider directly.

In conclusion, our final recommendations

We advise you to do your best to quickly assist your claims adjuster with information, details, and photos.

Since the insurer has an obligation to restore your belongings to the same condition as before the damage, and to compensate you within 60 days of receiving your claim, it is up to you to act quickly!

It is recommended that you refuse to move any of your belongings until they have been inventoried and their condition has been documented, and this, whether they are recoverable or a total loss.

Always carry with you or have easy access to your insurer’s contact information and your insurance policy number (take a photo with your phone or send it to your voicemail, for example).

When looking for your temporary relocation, pay attention to these features that will ensure comfort and peace of mind:

Choose flexible temporary rental which can be modified depending on the progress of the work. Some companies offer extensions by the day, week, or month without a long-term lease or commitment. Also, make sure that you can extend your contract at the same price in the event of unforeseen delays.

  • Choose a new, high-end, fully furnished and fully equipped apartment. This will make the post- disaster period more enjoyable.
  • Make sure that you have a quick takeover and 24/7 service.
  • Ask for an inventory list of accessories and equipment for your chosen accommodation before you commit. When you arrive, make a tour of the premises to ascertain their This way, you will avoid being charged for breakage or missing items when you leave.
  • Check the company’s Google reviews to make sure that you’re dealing with people you can trust.

Visit Arrow Location to find your temporary, turnkey accommodation.

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