AFTER THE DISASTER: Dealing With Your Insurance Company

You have likely heard a horror story or two about how rough it can be dealing with insurance after a home fire or other disaster. While the majority of claims are trouble free, the nasty situations we have all heard understandably get more of the coverage (pun intended!).

Remember the Fort McMurray wildfires back in 2016? It was a disaster that became a top news story in Canada that year, but the story didn't end when the fires were put out.

Dealing with the aftermath became its own nightmare for some residents who submitted 1 of the 45,000 insurance claims related to the fires.

Some insurance companies became overwhelmed, leading to a lack of communication and reported pressure for home owners to take low settlements.

While this is admittedly a special case (everyone hopes a situation like what we saw in Alberta does not happen often), the tips we cover below will help make the insurance process as painless as possible whether you're a single claim or just 1 of thousands related to the same disaster.

Here are the top 5 things Erie Mutual Insurance recommends to home owners when dealing with a claim.


    First and foremost, make sure all family members (no matter how many legs) are accounted for and injury free. If there are any injuries, major or minor, make sure they're all recorded and reported. Even seemingly minor injuries can turn out to be something more serious than expected later on.

    Once everyone is safe, do what you can to stop the bleeding of property damage, if safe to do so.

    Is your basement flooded? Remove as many possessions as you can to avoid further water damage. Click here for some tips on how to organize your basement to help avoid flood damage.

    Window or roof wind damaged? Cover up any openings as best you can to avoid further interior damage from incoming water or debris. Click here for some tips about protecting the outside of your home, especially in winter months.

    Not only will doing things like this help salvage what you have left, limiting further damage is also likely something that is required of you by your insurance policy.

    Getting the ball rolling as early as possible not only improves the chances of a quick claim, it can also help avoid further damage. Most insurance companies offer a 24/7 claims service (if not through them directly, then a 3rd party provider) who should be contacted as soon as possible.

    Do not wait until the next business day if the damage occurs during an evening or weekend.

    Before you call, have your policy number ready. This will need to be given because it gives your insurer information they need to know such as policy deductible and coverage limits.

    When speaking with your insurer, provide them with as much information as possible in terms of the damage. Make a list of damaged items, describe what you see from the outside and inside, let them know which rooms of the homes are impacted and which possessions are involved.

    This should be done while you're gathering the details for #4 above. Thankfully this is easier to do then ever these days since most people now walk around with a high resolution digital camera in their pocket. Snap away.

    Step back to take some pictures so the full context of the damage is captured. Step closer to take some more pictures to make sure the extent of the damage is accurately portrayed. Video can also be helpful. The more visuals of the damage you can obtain the better.

Following these 5 recommendations will make dealing with your insurance company smoother than you may have expected.

However one of the best things you can do to make the claim easy is to perform an annual review of your policy with your provider. Ask questions to make sure you understand what you're covered for, what you're not, and what is to be expected in the event of a disaster.

If you have any questions related to this topic please reach out to Service Master or contact Erie Mutual Insurance anytime and we'll be happy to offer professional insurance advice related to your specific situation.