As insurance adjusters and mobile claim centers are deployed across the affected areas, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) the I.I.I. has compiled seven tips for policyholders who are reporting Michael-caused property damage to their insurers:

1. Contact your insurer as soon as possible

Have your auto, homeowners, and/or renters’ insurance policy numbers and the best phone number and email address for the insurer to reach you. After a major storm, insurers visit those with the most severe damage first. Be prepared to provide an accurate description of the property damage. If you have a flood insurance claim, contact the insurance professional who sold you the flood insurance policy to start the claims-filing process.

2. Check with your insurer for emergency services that are available

In the event you need emergency services, such as removing water from your home, covering your roof, or boarding up windows or doors, many insurers will dispatch an approved emergency services company to protect your home from further damage. If your home has sustained severe damage, making it unlivable because of an insured event, your homeowners insurer will provide funds for additional living expenses (ALE).

3. Document your loss

Take photographs of your damaged items and note the purchase timeframe and approximate value—and collect receipts, if you have them. Many insurers ask policyholders to submit an inventory of storm-damaged items. An insurance adjuster will assess your property damage and then estimate how much it will cost to repair or rebuild your property and/or replace possessions.

4. Check with your insurer before discarding damaged items and materials

However, if you are required by your local municipality to discard property for safety reasons, remember to take photographs of these damaged items and materials to help with the claim-filing process.

5. Do not sign any contracts with builders or contractors

Be sure to contact your insurer before retaining a contractor. Contractors who ask for large deposits up front may not be reputable. In many cases, your insurance professional can help you review a bid from a contractor as they have experience with rebuilding and can flag where there may be a lack of detail.

6. Keep a claims-filing diary

Good recordkeeping is important when filing a claim. Make a list of everyone you speak to about your claim. Note their name, title and contact information. Also, keep track of the date, time and issues discussed. The better organized you are, the easier the claims process will be.

7. Sign up for Short Message Service (SMS)/text alerts

Many insurers use these alerts to notify you of your claim’s status. Under this system, you will receive text messages on your phone when you first report your claim, when your insurance adjuster’s estimate is available, and when an insurer’s payment has been sent to you.