WTVY Hurricane Center -> Cleaning Up -> Insurance & Business Recovery

Insurance Tips

Make sure you’re covered

In the aftermath of a hurricane, an insurance adjuster provides one of the most important roles in a homeowner’s road to recovery. After the storm has passed, your insurance company will dispatch their own adjuster to your home to access damages and determine what type of settlement amount you should receive based on the contract of your policy. The adjuster plays a vital role in determining the amount of money you receive. That’s why it’s important to document your losses for yourself. Make your own list of damages and, if possible, take pictures and videos. Also, try and delay making any repairs until an adjuster has visited your property. But don’t compromise your safety. When the adjuster arrives, be sure and ask plenty of questions and exchange business cards and contact information. Remember, the insurance adjuster works for the insurer. They are, however, professionals and, in most cases, not out to keep you from getting the settlement you deserve. They are professionally trained to determine the amount of any claim, loss or damage. While your adjuster may not be from your local area, they must be properly licensed to work in the state.

Homeowners do have other options. You can hire a public adjuster to come in, access the damage and sort through the paperwork and red tape to help you file your claim. The public adjuster works for you, not the insurance company. You can hire a public insurance adjuster at the beginning of the claims process or at the end. An insurance policy is a difficult legal document to decipher. A public adjuster can help a homeowner maximize their settlement by sorting through the policy. Hiring a public adjuster, however, will cost you. They will charge anywhere from 5 to 50 percent of your claim settlement. For more information about public insurance adjusters, visit the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters Web site at www.napia.com. Do your homework before hiring a public adjuster. Contact the state’s insurance commission to verify the adjuster.

Tips

  • Document everything, including shooting your own pictures and video of damages, if possible.
  • Try to avoid making repairs until your adjuster arrives. Don’t, however, compromise your safety.
  • Offer any paperwork you have, including receipts, to determine the value of a damaged item.
  • Exchange contact information. Be sure to get a business card and contact information for the adjuster who visits your home.
  • Ask questions. If you don’t understand something in your policy, ask the adjuster to explain it.
  • Know your options. If you're not happy, you can hire your own public insurance adjuster to help you settle your claim.
  • Business Recovery

    The first hours and days after a devastating storm are crucial for any small business. It could mean the difference between staying in business or going under. That concern helped give rise to the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program. It provided many local businesses with the financial backing to rebound from costly hurricane damage. The program is offered as a resource to provide short-term loans to businesses impacted by the storm. The governor determines if the program is needed after a storm. If a storm damages your business, contact the chamber of commerce to see if the program will be available.

    Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

    Q: What is the purpose of a Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan?
    A: The state’s emergency bridge loan program is a short-term loan program for small businesses experiencing difficulty surviving or restarting as a result of a hurricane’s physical impact on the business. It is designed as a short-term loan for businesses with fewer than 100 employees and provides up to $25,000. The program is designed to provide a source of expedient cash flow to businesses impacted by a major catastrophe, enabling them to quickly begin repairs, replace inventory, etc. Eligible applicants generally are small businesses that have sustained significant physical damage and have been in business for at least one year. The short-term loans are intended to bridge the gap between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured other resources to resume to relative normalcy.

    Q: What are the terms of a Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan?
    A: In the past, these interest-free loans have been available for a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $25,000, in terms of 90-day or 180- day maturities.

    Q: Who is eligible to apply for emergency bridge loans?
    A: Those eligible to apply include:

  • Minimum number of employees: Two. (Self-employed individuals may be eligible on a case-by-case basis.)
  • Maximum size of the business: 100 employees.
  • Need for the loan and use of proceeds must be directly related to the physical impact of the storm. Applicants must have verifiable, physical damage.
  • Q: Is there an ownership requirement for loan eligibility?
    A: Loans are made to individuals who are at least 50 percent owners of the business. Only one loan per individual or per business is available.

    Q: Are there restrictions on the use of such loans?
    A: The borrower is required to sign agreements that proceeds of this loan will be used only for purposes of maintaining or restarting the business in the designated area, and loans will be repaid from insurance proceeds or proceeds of other financing obtained in connection with the effects of the storm. Bridge loans cannot be used for economic injury decreased sales or service from temporary closure, power outage, evacuations, limited stock, etc.

    Q: Is there an application deadline?
    A: Applications deadlines are established when the governor activates the loan program.


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