The best defense in the protection of your real and personal property is an up-to-date inventory with photographs to document the condition of the property prior to the disaster. A copy of the inventory and photographs should be kept in a safety deposit box.

1. Initial Protective Measures
Secure your property against further damage, like covering the roof, removing trees, and preventing trespass or vandalism. Keep receipts for temporary repairs as these should be covered by your insurance.

2. File a Claim Promptly
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Call your local agent, the national/regional office's 1-800 number, or the one in your policy package. Due to possible communication issues, keep trying and leave a message once you connect. Provide your name, policy number, damage description (not cost), and contact information.

3. Consider Federal Assistance
In a federal disaster, follow local media instructions and file a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after your insurance claim.

4. Preparing for the Adjuster
Copy or create an inventory of damaged/lost items, especially for total destruction cases. Obtain estimates from contractors if feasible. Check your policy for replacement terms and coverage for unique materials or features.

5. Special Considerations for Historic Properties
If your property is historic, get documentation of its status from the State Historic Preservation Office or local preservation commission. This could be essential for justifying special treatments or materials.

6. Post-Adjuster Steps
After the adjuster's visit and appraisal:
* Discuss additional costs if repairs for historic property materials exceed the estimate.
* Use the "appraisal provision" in your policy to request a damage and repair cost appraisal, including an "umpire" if needed.
* Request an extension for repairs if you can prove delays in getting estimates and completing repairs.
* Normally, claims shouldn't impact your premium, but frequent claims history might affect future coverage.

7. Seek Help if Needed
If you encounter claim issues or feel rushed into a settlement, contact the North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance's hotline at (855) 408-1212.


For additional information concerning the treatment of historic properties threatened or damaged by a natural disaster, contact the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (see Staff Roster for contact information).