Tropical Storm Isabel, which flooded streets and left millions of people without power, is a reminder that none of us are protected from natural disasters.
But after a destructive storm, property owners can protect their finances by making sure they file insurance claims effectively.
Begin the process as soon as possible.
Inspect your property and document the damage, if necessary, with photographs or video. Make temporary repairs to limit further harm, but do not cover up all evidence.
Know your insurance policies. Read each policy's terms carefully, especially concerning areas that may overlap, and ask your agent questions if you are confused. Don't expect the insurance company to fully protect your interests and rights.
Though you may make an initial claim via telephone or e-mail, back it up with an official letter.
Many of the large insurance companies sent teams of adjusters into the Baltimore area after the storm to assess damages and to make it easier for policyholders to make claims in person.
When a claim inspector arrives, ask for proper identification. Thieves have used the cover of inspections to enter homes.