In the aftermath of a hurricane, insurance agents should take these key steps to help insureds with property damage losses. Of course, the number-one priority is for everyone to keep loved ones safe, including waiting to return home until cleared to do so.

Jay Pellegrini, RPS Area President/Covington, Louisiana, shares his top five suggestions for agents in the wake of a hurricane:

1. Give Clients RPS Claims Contact Info ASAP

Make sure clients with a policy through RPS have the contact info and instructions for filing a first notice of loss (FNOL). The most common contact methods are the claims toll-free phone number 844.777.8323 and the FNOL claims page on myRPS.

When the national claims administration team receives the FNOL, they activate a number of triggers to begin the claims process.

"This contact needs to take place to get the clock started and have the claim filed as soon as possible," stresses Pellegrini.

2. Prevent Further Damage to the Property

Advise clients to take precautions to prevent future property damage, if it is safe to do so.

"This may mean putting up a tarp or moving items to a secure and dry location such as a storage unit, if possible," explains Pellegrini.

3. Let the Claims Team Handle the Loss

Don't put yourself in a position where you're handling a claim and making promises to an insured about what's covered or how the policy's deductible will be applied.

"Let the claims team adjust the claim — they are the experts," says Pellegrini. "What to do and not to do are equally important during the claims process."

4. Document Communications the Claims Process

Once the claims process begins, document all phone calls and correspondence with insureds. Save any digital photos the insured provides.

5. Be Prepared for an On-site Disaster, Too

In hurricane-prone areas, agents and brokers who are typically part of the community are often as affected by a storm as their clients.

"For example, during Hurricane Katrina, retail agents were struggling with the same problems as their insureds," says Pellegrini. "Many agencies had no power and, in some cases, their building, house, or car was damaged. In fact, during Katrina several agencies office buildings were completely destroyed or under water, leaving them with no client records or backups.

"Agents need to be prepared for an on-site disaster, including having proper computer backups and server protection. Think about how you are going to service an insured during a disaster if all your data is lost."

RPS provides homeowners and flood insurance policies to clients through our agency partners.

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