What to expect when processing insurance claims after a hurricane or flood

One expert says the first thing people should do after their property sustains storm damage is to contact their insurance company to get the claims process started.

Many folks in Florida and South Carolina are working to rebuild their lives after floods from then-Hurricane Ian wiped out their homes and businesses.

As they sift through the wreckage and rubble, one of the countless thoughts racing through their minds may be, "Does my insurance cover this?"

"Insurance [companies] are standing by, ready and prepared to help their policyholders rebuild and recover post-hurricane," said Logan McFadden, vice president of state government relations at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

The first task insurance consumers should take is to contact their insurance company to start the claims filing process, McFadden advised. This will help them receive assistance, such as a list of reputable contractors for repairs and additional living expenses.

One of those expenses may include a rental car. According to McFadden, any car that has water damage is typically covered under a comprehensive physical damage policy. Part of that coverage typically includes rental cars.

McFadden did give a note of caution for people whose cars were flooded.

"Do not try to start that car," she said. "If there has been water damage, the floorboards are wet, the seats are wet, your air filter under your hood is wet, because they can just make the damage worse."

As far as rebuilding a home goes, McFadden said additional living expenses may be provided, but that can only be determined by contacting an insurance carrier. 

For example, temporary housing may be provided if the damaged home is uninhabitable.

"Contacting your insurance carrier is definitely the first step to see what is covered," said McFadden.