Photographs are important evidence when substantiating insurance claims. The following guidelines may prove helpful in this regard.
(1) If you have no images, take them BEFORE a clean-up starts. That is IMMEDIATELY after the damage takes place. If there is a flood take images while the waters are at their highest point, if possible, and then immediately after the waters recede.
(2) Ideally images should be taken of undamaged property before the storm or flood. These images should be on a dedicated memory chip that does not have family photos, images of your girlfriend in a bikini, or the children. The chip should ONLY have documentation images. It should be stored in a place that would be secure, such as a safe-deposit box, or in the attic.
(3) Post disaster, a similarly dedicated memory chip should be used. No other images but damage images.
(4) A high degree of resolution should be selected, so the images may be blown up. The digital camera will have a variety of options in this regard.
(5) Within the frame of each image should be an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper with 2 inch block high letters made with a magic marker stating the address, the approximate time the picture was taken, the date, and the name of the person performing the photography. The placing of the name of the person taking the images with the frame is very important, as it is crucial for them to be admitted as evidence. These images may surface in court years after the event and without such corroboration may be called into question.
(6) In taking images of a room or a cellar take a panoramic view. That is, a sequence of views that will cover 360 degrees. It is important that the images overlap, with part of one photograph covering the same area as the adjacent photograph. Since you are taking 360 degrees of images, mark "North", "East", South" and West" by the letters N, E, S and W in the photos.
(7) Take images of the cieling and floor if there is flood damage.
(8) Take a clipboard and make a drawing of the floor plan of the house, numbering or lettering each room. Place this identification on the paper and in the field of view of the image. Years later you want to know which images was taken in which room.
(9) Ideally some sort of measure should be in each image. A yardstick, or in the case of small objects a ruler, or alternately an object of known height and width, such as a dollar bill.
(10) Print out the images at a Kinkos or similar facility as soon as possible. Regardless of the magic of modern electronics and the internet your claim will be more expeditiously and fairly handled if the images are printed out in a binder for evaluation, rather than e-mailed (except as a back-up). Print one set for yourself and one for the insurance adjuster. Any size is acceptable, however 5 X 7 is prefererred. Yes, I know this is expensive, but it the "cost of doing business" and attention to this will result in a higher liklihood of your clam being acceptably processed. Do not provide the chip itself to the insurance adjuster. Only he printed images.
(11) In addition to your house take images of the surrounding street (also a panoramic set of images).
(12) If there is flood damage, walk around your house and insure there are overlaping images covering the entire surface area of the outside of the house.
(13) There should be no deletions or erasures of improperly taken images. Leave the chip undisturbed.
(14) Ideally there should images of the house and property, taken in good weather, under sunlight, before the disaster.
(15) Photography and security measures, both before and after the storm, such as sandbags, berms, locks, chains, or plywood used to protect windows. This demonstrates to the insurance adjuster you have taken "reasonable and prudent precautions".
(16) On a separate sheet of paper, coded to the numbers in the images make an estimate of the value of the item, and if you have receipts.
(17) Don't forget to take images of the inside of the refrigerator, cabinets and closets.
Shortly after the images are taken, the photographer should prepare an affidavit, with his name and address and phone number, which is a simple letter stating he took so many (numbers) of images of (describe) at so-and-so address on such-and-such date during approximately what time, and have his signature notarized. This document should be stored with the memory chip and a xerox copy presented to the insurance adjuster.
These insurance cases may take a long time to resolve, and you may eventually end up in civil court, which have a bit of leeway, but it is best to follow the established rules of evidence.
If there is an expensive item for which you have no receipt make a copy of an internet posting as to what the item sells for.
If taking images before-hand involving small items, spread them on a white sheet or tablecloth and take an image of the entire collection using large-format resolution, and, of course a paper within the field documenting the time, date, photographer and a means to judge size, such as a ruler.
Don't scimp on the number of images. You can never have enough.
Try to get three written estimates from contractors for repair, even it you have someone in mind who will do the job inexpensively. If you do the repairs yourself keep a small notebook (such as the marble school books) and scotch-tape all receipts for materials inside and document the number of hours spent every day in a log within the book. Pay hired help that assist in rebuilding by check and xerox the checks.
Tree contractors are not available .. lists are #50 and beyond for a call back or stop by for estimates. Of course, life threatening tree service was done first. Also, be sure to ask for identification from ANYBODY who knocks at your door or comes with an estimate. Ask to see proof of insurance and pay nobody up-front for services not rendered. These are a few more tips learned in today's newspaper.
Emergency repairs only and take pics before/after and be sure to let your insurance know ASAP.
I sent my pics directly to a photo printing such as Walgreens.com this way I knew the first batch was secure and safe in case my phone crashed and especially since I had no way to keep a chip on my brand of phone, etc.
Will go back maybe and add the info you suggest above but at least for now Round #1 of pics is secure.
Thank you Caregiver for all your suggestions for us all.
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