Making repairs after a natural disaster requires patience and diligence. You’ll have to get in touch with your insurance company, secure a settlement, then book time with an independant contractor. And after a disaster, insurance companies and contractors tend to be quite busy.

There are smart reasons to not rush through the process. Here’s a primer on how to make repairs after a disaster and how to make sure your insurance company pays for as much of your repairs as possible.

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Take Inventory and Make a Claim

Whether you’re going to hire a pro or do it yourself, before making a repair, you’re going to want to take pictures and make a list. You’ll need to submit evidence of damage to your insurance company, and having concrete items (like photos and receipts) help the process go more smoothly. Our “How to Make an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane” article explains the process in detail.

Don’t Make Repairs Right Away

As tempting as it may be, hold off on making repairs until you’ve reached an agreement with your insurance company. Any permanent fixes you make could compromise your ability to get the settlement you’re owed.

Keep in mind you can make temporary fixes. If your roof has a hole in it, you don’t have to leave it open and expose your house to the elements. But cover it with a tarp or a piece of plywood as opposed to calling the roofer. The insurance claims process shouldn’t take too long, and once you have your settlement, you can get down to making serious repairs.

Hiring a Contractor

If you have a contractor you’ve used before, it’s a great idea to give them a call and see when they can start work. Contacting friends and family for recommendations or visiting DisasterAssistance.Gov for a list of government-approved contractors can also be a good idea.

No matter what, make sure you get your estimate in writing and that you and your contractor create an Independent Contractor Agreement. Use it to memorialize the cost of work, how long your contractor thinks it will take, and if there’s any payment plan or if you must pay up front. You can also discuss with your contractor whether or not you’re going to receiving money from your insurer. But again, do not have your contractor start work until you’ve received your settlement from your insurance company. 

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