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.