Let me start by saying that I am thankful that you and your loved ones safe and sound. I’m sorry to hear that things for your home did not turn out quite as well. Hopefully the damage was minimal and you will be back in the swing of things very soon. And, in many cases, that means getting your insurance check endorsed by the mortgage company.
One thing I have been reminded from going through Hurricane Matthew (yes, my home was hit too. I am writing this as much for myself as for you), is most people are good. Neighbors are checking on each other’s homes. They are sharing information. Neighbors are safeguarding each other and their communities. They are banding together to clean up and share supplies. Neighbors are helping each other.
Yes, most people are good. This includes your mortgage company and your insurance company. They want your home to be safe, secure and returned to normal as quickly and conveniently as possible.
While this post is specifically written for the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, many of the tips will apply after any natural disaster and will also apply anytime that you have to get an insurance check processed by your mortgage company. So here we go…it’s all about getting your insurance check endorsed by the mortgage company quickly.
Determine Needed Repairs
Some repairs are obvious. If a tree landed on your roof it clearly needs to be removed. If the same tree pierced your roof then that damage also needs to be repaired. But what about the roots? Were the roots under your foundation? Did they come out of the ground? Do you need a structural inspection? Be certain that you speak to your insurance adjustor and work with other necessary professionals to determine the full scope of repairs that are needed.
On a flight to Dallas this week I sat next to a retired Army nurse. He went through the hail storm in Dallas this past April. He was sharing his story and he had some great advice. Be sure to take action. The hail storm had damaged his roof and blown out a lot of his windows. This left his carpet soaked. He had pulled out the carpet to prevent further damage and he put a tarp over his roof.
You too can take action to prevent further damage. This step is called remediation. Many areas have had a tremendous amount of damage. Our resources will be stretched and it may take time for adjusters and tradesmen to get to your repairs. You don’t want damage to get worse.
Be certain that you take precautionary steps. Your safety is worth more than your stuff. The Georgia Department of Insurance shares important safety tips along with other insurance tips like how to document your claim. You should be taking pictures – better to have and not need than to need and not have. The same thing with receipts. Keep those receipts. I haven’t read my insurance policies in detail since I took them out and I am guessing that you haven’t either. I don’t know exactly what is covered, say is spoiled food in my refrigerator covered, but I would rather have proof than not. Evacuation costs, gas, lodging, food, remediation costs, etc. it may or may not be covered under you policy.
Selecting A Contractor
I hate to say it, but there are unscrupulous people in this world. When you are selecting someone to work on your home make sure that you do your due diligence. At a minimum do the following:
· Ensure your contractor has the licenses required by your city, county, state
· Check references
· Don’t pay cash
· Don’t pay for work in advance
Does your insurance company know who your mortgage company is?
Yes, it matters that your insurance company knows who your mortgage company is. Your claim check from your insurance company will be made payable to you and your mortgage company; the mortgage company that is listed on your insurance policy. If your mortgage loan has been sold and you haven’t updated your insurance policy this could cause you problems. Why? You will need three endorsements in order to cash your check. You will have to endorse the check. The mortgage company listed on the check will have to endorse the check and your current mortgage company will have to endorse the check. Better to have the mortgage company updated with your insurance company before the insurance claim check is issued.
Speaking of reaching your insurance company. If you can’t reach your insurance agent to file your claim you can always call your insurance company or vice versa. Not sure if you should call your flood insurance agent you’re your homeowners insurance agent? Call them both. You also likely have different deductibles for different perils (wind, flood, etc.). Be certain to ask about that when you call.
Will they need anything to endorse my check?
Your home serves as collateral for your mortgage loan. The mortgage company has a responsibility to ensure that the collateral remains in a reasonably similar condition as it was when the loan was closed. Depending on the scope of the repairs and the dollar amount of the claim check, before your claims check can be endorsed, your lender may require one or more of the following:
· Estimate of repairs
· Bid for Repairs
· Contractors information and proof of licensing
· Insurance Adjustors Report
· Inspections specific to the damages (i.e roof inspection, structural inspection)
· Final Inspection (proof work has been completed)
· Proof of identity for you and any joint mortgage holders
Can the local office endorse my claims check?
Check in advance for the policies of your lender. The loan officer that made your loan is not likely going to be able to endorse your insurance claim check. This is generally handled by the servicing department and that department is typically centrally located.
Can I live in my home while repairs are being made?
This is a great question. I don’t have an answer for you as it depends on the extent of the damages and the scope of the repairs. Your safety is of the utmost importance. You may have to live elsewhere while repairs are completed on your home.
A side note on safety, as power comes back on be extra careful of standing water and power lines. There is still a danger of electrocution. Don’t take any unnecessary chances. Be sure to wash everything as storm water often mixes with sewage and other chemicals.
Remember that policies vary from lender to lender and insurance company to insurance company. Be sure to check with your providers for specifics.
Remember, it’s more than money; it’s your future.