How to file a homeowners insurance claim after Hurricane Dorian

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Myles Ma, CPFCSenior ReporterMyles Ma, CPFC, is a senior reporter and certified personal finance counselor at Policygenius, where he covers insurance and personal finance. His expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, CBS News, USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, and elsewhere.

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Hurricane Dorian dropped 10 to 15 inches of rain on the Carolinas last week, unleashing flooding and tornadoes along the coast. The storm also struck Virginia with heavy wind and rain, CNN reported.

If your home was damaged during Dorian, homeowners insurance can help cushion the financial blow. It helps to act quickly. Insurance claims can require a lot of information. Plus, you're probably not the only house in the neighborhood that experienced damage.

The sooner you act, the sooner the insurance company can submit your payment. Here's what you need to do to file a claim.

What to do before filing

Avoid tossing out your ruined or damaged items immediately. Treat your home like a crime scene until the insurance inspector can assess the damage.

Contact your insurance company to learn:

Whether your policy covers the damage How long you have to file the claim Whether the claim exceeds your deductible How long the claim will take to process

If your home is so damaged that you need to make repairs immediately or relocate, hang on to all your receipts, because your policy may reimburse these expenses.

How to fill out your claim forms

The insurance company will provide you a claim reference number. Having it on hand whenever you talk to the insurer will make communication faster.

The company will send forms asking you to provide personal information and outline the damage to your property and its value. Make sure you fill them out completely and accurately to speed up the process.

Once your claims are processed, the insurance company will send an inspector or adjuster to see whether your claim is justified. The more documentation you'll able to supply the adjuster on the state of your home before and after the storm, the faster the claim can go through.

Hang on to any paperwork you receive from the adjuster and record the names and contact information for anyone you speak to about the claim. Also, watch out for scammers, who may pose as adjusters or contractors in the wake of a storm. Verify your inspector's identity if you can.

Getting reimbursed

The adjuster will provide a damage estimate. These can sometimes be inaccurate in the wake of a hurricane, but you have the ability to schedule a second visit if need be.

Once you get your check, you can start working with a contractor to make repairs or go shopping to replace your damaged property.

Want a more detailed look at the homeowners insurance claim process? Read our step-by-step guide.

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