Explainer: How to file claims for property damage after a cyclone

All you need to know about assessing damage to home and furniture in a cyclone, claiming insurance and getting back lost documents

In the aftermath of the devastating floods caused by Cyclone Michaung in Chennai, where many faced property damage and lost their belongings, the path to recovery is daunting. Getting back what one has lost in a natural disaster is not an easy process, but can be done with some planning. The struggle is real, but there is hope — insurance claims can be a crucial lifeline, helping residents recover some of the losses and find closure.

According to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), in response to the aftermath of Cyclone Michaung, insurance companies have been directed to mobilise resources for prompt response to claims by affected people. Key measures include appointing a Nodal Claims Officer, designating District Claims Service Heads for high-claim areas, publishing contact details on insurers’ websites and in the press, activating 24×7 helplines, and launching awareness campaigns.

The IRDAI has suggested setting up of Special Claims Desks at the district level for speedy claims processing and on-account interim payments. Insurers are urged to engage an adequate number of surveyors and loss adjusters, encouraging electronic communication for initiating claims. Simplified documentation processes and compassionate consideration for death claims without a death certificate in certain cases are emphasised. Weekly reporting of cyclone/flood-related claims information to IRDAI is mandated for a month.

Read more : Chennai’s empty plots and OSR land can help fight flooding and drought

What is covered under your insurance

Comprehensive home insurance in India commonly covers both the structure and contents of a property, such as furniture, electronics and other valuables. It also includes protection against a spectrum of risks, ranging from fire incidents and equipment malfunctions to accidental damages. Chennai residents, dealing with the increasing frequency of floods, are urged to meticulously evaluate coverage amounts for both buildings and contents. Factors such as house type, location, and the value of possessions should be considered to ensure that insurance coverage aligns with the unique challenges posed by the city’s climatic conditions.

The aftermath of Cyclone Michaung has unveiled the vulnerability of furniture to flood damage. Home insurance, beyond structural coverage, acts as a shield for valuable items within homes, including furniture. Residents should document each piece’s condition, assessing whether restoration or replacement is necessary. Addressing furniture damage is a crucial aspect of the recovery process, and including detailed inventories, photographs, and estimates for repair or replacement costs in insurance claims is essential. “One major inquiry we get during times like these is concerns from small shop owners about coverage of their shop furniture, so we have made a comprehensive guide on our site based on the same,” says Varun J, an insurance policy agent at Policy Bazaar.

Also, to mitigate the financial impact of damage to vehicles, comprehensive motor insurance is essential. “As a government insurance company, we handle risk by carefully assessing policies, partnering with others through reinsurance and keeping enough funds, providing solid coverage and stability for our customers, even during unexpected events,” says Pooja Bharath, Manager from United India Insurance Company Ltd.

There are certain points to be noted in securing assets, and this is why awareness around the same is important. For instance, attempting to start a flooded vehicle may void coverage for engine damage. For home insurance claims related to damages, providing photographs, receipts, and repair estimates is crucial, with careful scrutiny of policy documents to understand inclusions, exclusions and procedures.

Residents are advised to explore additional layers of coverage, as they address repair and replacement costs for various vehicle components affected during floods.

Read more: Weathering the storm: Health challenges post-Cyclone Michaung in Chennai

Steps to ensure a successful claim

Residents are recommended to initiate the claims process promptly by notifying their insurers immediately. The digital submission of necessary documents expedites the claim settlement process, ensuring a swift response from insurance providers. Detailed documentation, particularly for damaged furniture, is essential.

As the city rebuilds and restores post-Cyclone Michaung, adopting a comprehensive insurance approach is indispensable. Residents can navigate the challenges effectively by staying well-informed, making proactive insurance choices, and fostering resilience in the face of the unpredictable forces of nature.

Documents needed:

  • Claims form
  • Purchase invoices for damaged items
  • Report of incurred loss
  • NEFT documents
  • Estimate of repair for damages
  • Bills for repair done

Points to Remember to Secure Your Assets During a Cyclone or Related Event:

  • Identify the specific risks posed by cyclones, such as flooding, wind damage, and other weather-related perils.
  • Understand the vulnerabilities of your property and possessions in the face of cyclonic events.
  • Review your current insurance policies, including home and motor insurance, to understand the extent of coverage for cyclone-related damages.
  • Check for specific coverage related to flood damage, windstorm, and other perils associated with cyclones.
  • Reach out to your insurance provider to discuss your concerns and clarify the extent of coverage for cyclone-related damages.
  • Inquire about specific add-ons or riders that may enhance your coverage in the event of a cyclone.
  • Check if your home insurance policy provides adequate coverage for furniture and valuable items within your home.
  • Document the condition of furniture and valuables to facilitate the claims process in case of damage.
  • Inquire about additional coverage options, such as specialized riders for furniture, electronics, and high-value items, to ensure comprehensive protection.
  • Take detailed photographs of your property, including the interior and exterior, before any cyclone event.
  • Maintain an inventory of valuable possessions, noting their condition and estimated value.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with important documents, including insurance policies, identification, and contact information.
  • Store this kit in a secure and easily accessible location.
  • Familiarize yourself with local evacuation plans and routes.
  • Ensure you are aware of emergency shelters and have a plan in place for relocating in case of evacuation.
  • In the aftermath of Cyclone Michaung, promptly notify your insurance provider about any damages to your property or vehicles.
  • Submit digital documents for the claims process to expedite settlement.
  • Conduct a thorough assessment of your property post-cyclone to document damages.
  • Work closely with insurance assessors during the property evaluation process.
  • Stay informed about government initiatives and support programs for cyclone-affected areas.
  • Coordinate with relevant authorities for any additional assistance or information.
  • Engage with restoration experts for repairing and rebuilding damaged property and furniture.
  • Follow the guidance of insurance professionals to ensure a smooth recovery process

Getting back lost documents

Many Chennai residents are also faced with the unfortunate loss of crucial documents. The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has set up dedicated camps for the reissuance of lost documents. This guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of applying for the reissuance of your documents through the GCC, offering a glimmer of hope on the path to recovery.

GCC publishes locations and steps to recover documents in various zones
The GCC has made provisions for residents to get back vital documents in the aftermath of the cyclone. Pic Courtesy: Greater Chennai Corporation/Twitter

What to Do:

  1. Identify Lost Documents: Make a list of the essential documents you’ve lost, such as Aadhar cards, voter IDs, land records, and any other vital papers. This will help streamline the reissuance process.
  2. Locate the Nearest GCC Center: Find the nearest GCC center providing document reissuance services. These centers are strategically set up to ensure accessibility for all affected residents.
  3. Visit the GCC Center: Go to the GCC center with your list of lost documents. The staff will guide you through the process and provide necessary forms for reissuance.
  4. Fill Out Reissuance Forms: Carefully fill out the reissuance forms, providing accurate details about the lost documents. Double-check your entries to avoid any delays in processing.
  5. Submit Supporting Documents: Along with the reissuance forms, submit any supporting documents you have, like photocopies or reference numbers. This helps GCC verify your identity and expedite the reissuance.
  6. Document Verification: GCC officials will verify your details and the submitted documents. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have regarding the lost documents.
  7. Follow-Up: After submitting your request, stay informed about the status of your application. You can check with the GCC center or use any online tracking services they provide.
  8. Collect Reissued Documents: Once your application is approved, return to the GCC center to collect your reissued documents. Ensure you have proper identification when picking up the documents.

Dial 1913 to lodge your complaint, and you may also use the same number to inquire about the current status of your registered complaint. Ensure you have your complaint number on hand. GCC online complaint registration and helpline.

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