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    A fire.  A hailstorm.  A burglary.  A theft.  These and many other perils are the reasons we purchase insurance.  In the event you experience a loss, here are some tips to keep in mind.

*Secure your property!  Did a hailstorm take out some windows?  Did a gust of wind take off a section of your roof?  Secure the area to minimize any further damage to your property.  Put tarp over that damaged roof, or plywood over those busted windows, and keep track of these expenses for your adjuster. 

*Be prompt!  This may sound like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by the number of people who put off notifying their agent or insurance carrier they've experienced a loss.  Most policies require the Insured to promptly report any losses; be sure to comply!

*Call authorities.  If a crime has been committed, call the police.  Hang on to the Police Report; your adjuster is definitely going to want to examine it. 

*Cooperation.  Whether it's signing a Proof of Loss Statement, or obtaining a certain number of estimates, always comply with what your insurance carrier requests.  To put a request off, or argue over a request, only means one thing:  Payment of your claim is going to be delayed. 

*If you have an auto accident on a public street or road, before you call authorities--and if the autos can still operate--pull over to the nearest parking lot, or to the curb.  Hang on to the Accident Report. 

*For an auto accident on private property (for instance, a parking lot), unless there is injury requiring medical attention the authorities don't need to be contacted.  Exchange insurance information with the other party, and use your phone to take pictures of the damage, and the positions of the vehicles. 

*Finally, over the course of the claims process, if you feel your insurance company and/or adjuster aren't treating you fairly, contact your agent.  Give him or her a detailed account of what has transpired, and show him or her any paperwork you have.  The better informed your agent is on the status of your claim, the more effective he or she will be when contacting the carrier on your behalf!

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