When a natural disaster strikes you property, it can be a very shocking experience as you may not know where to turn or how to proceed. However, the first moments that you recognize the damage are the most crucial in preventing additional costs and time in repairs. Insurance companies also want you to be able to stop the damage as soon as it is incurred. They can even deny the claim if there is any hesitation in initiating restoration process. This is why it is imperative that you do everything in your power in order to prevent the damage from spreading. While emergency restoration companies, such as ServiceMaster, are just a phone call away, it may take some time for them to arrive. In the meantime, there are a number of simple steps you can take yourself in order to save you time and money in additional costs down the road.
Disaster Restoration – What to Do
- Call your local ServiceMaster. The sooner you call them, the better so that the damage incurred on your property does not become permanent. They are available to provide water damage restoration and fire and smoke damage restoration in addition to any other disaster cleanup services you may need. They will even work with your insurance provider to expedite the claims process.
- Call your insurance company. Many providers may only accept claims made within 24 hours of the loss. In addition, they will need to send out an agent to gather all evidence of the damage before any restoration work can begin. ServiceMaster would be more than happy to work with your claims agent and expedite the process for you.
- Call your mortgage company. This is important in terms of informing them of the loss so you know how to proceed according to their policies. Your restoration provider can also work with the company to assist in providing any information during the process.
- Save all receipts. Any costs in repairs will need to be documented and kept for your insurance company so they can reimburse you accordingly.
- Take pictures of the damages. Although this may be done by your insurance provider, mortgage company, and even your accountant, it is always a good idea to have your own documentation for evidence. They can also prevent any disputes with your insurance company in the future.
- Call your accountant. While major losses can be accounted for on your taxes at the end of the year, it is always a good idea to get more information about tax breaks on disasters, thefts, and casualty losses. Your accountant can also provide you with any paperwork required to file for the loss.
Disaster Restoration – What to Avoid
- Do not hire just any restoration company. Make sure that the provider is a professional restoration company that will explain all services and costs to you before beginning the process. Many property owners have been deceived by untrustworthy providers due to either lack of experience, disorganization, or misuse of products and equipment. Ultimately, the property was not returned to its original condition or will face additional costs due to a low-quality service. ServiceMaster understands this completely, which is why their technicians go through training in addition to their years of experience to remain updated on the latest products and equipment of the industry. With their services, you can be sure that the job will be done right the first time.
- Do not discard anything without documenting it. Be sure to take pictures and the record model or serial numbers for insurance purposes before disposing of any belongings. It is actually recommended that your claims agent inspects the item before it is thrown away. ServiceMaster is also available to do a pack out service and store your belongings until your property is completely restored.
- Do not clean any building materials or content. Depending on the source of the damage, such as water, soot, smoke, or fire, any improper cleaning techniques or products can actually worsen the damage. It is best to leave this job to the professionals as they do this work everyday. You may even want to relocate temporarily during the restoration process. Your insurance claims agent will also be able to assist you in making this decision.
- Do not use any electrical appliances. This includes ceiling fans, ovens, or plugging in any other machinery. Whether damaged by soot, smoke, fire, or water, it is extremely dangerous to use an electrical appliance that has not been inspected by a qualified electrician.
By following these simple steps immediately after a disaster, you are well on your way towards minimizing costs and time in the restoration process. In the event that you have incurred severe property damage from water, fire, smoke, soot, or mold, your local ServiceMaster is available to provide emergency disaster services. Call your provider right away to limit the spread of damage and to save you from an even bigger headache in the future.