Preparing for Deployment: Weathering the Storm
No, I’m not speaking metaphorically. I’m talking about when Mother Nature goes all girl power all over your car, your house, your street, your everything, and you’re left cleaning up that b-word’s mess. I recently lost my car due to a total freak hail storm that hit while I was at work. You know, the car I had just purchased to deal with the record breaking snowfall winter we had just endured during the first winter in our first house. Yea, I’m still looking at our oil bill, but that’s another blog post. The hail storm had happened so fast it was like an apocalypse ripped through the city I work in and spat us out one town over. That’s when the clock starting ticking, and with a little bit of luck, a little bit of better cell phone service than everyone else and a lot a bit of organization I weathered the storm (get it?). Here’s how you can stay organized so you’re ready to deal with emergencies that require a call to your insurance company. It’s helpful information anytime, but it’s especially important to be organized during deployment or other long-term separations when you’re handling absolutely everything.
First and foremost, keep all of your insurance information in a place where you can easily access it, and more importantly actually understand it. Find out what you’re eligible for, what your rights are, and what it is you’re paying for every month. Hopefully you never need it, but in the case that you do, you don’t want to be fumbling through old credit card statements, birthday cards, recipes, and magazine tear outs. Personally, I have found that labeled file folders in a file organizer has been a lifesaver, it’s portable, it’s light, and it’s easy to navigate. In case you were wondering.
We all know the first thing you should do is call your insurance company once you have assessed the damage and the shock has slightly worn off. However, I knew there was severe damage before even getting to my car so I started to call as soon as I could. Not sparing any time paid off in the long run. The customer service representative I spoke with said she hadn’t even gotten any calls yet from my area, so I was literally at the top of the list for a rental car and an appraiser. Moral of the story, get on that phone as soon as physically possible.
Once you’ve stopped waiting on hold, get a pen and paper out because you need to keep a record of everything. When I say everything, I mean everything. Record claim numbers, ask for direct extensions to avoid wasting time the next time you call in (they’ll be many next times), ask for names of who you’re speaking too, and more importantly don’t just assume your part is over. You see, I’m really good at playing dumb, sometimes I even think to myself “c’mon Bonnie, really?” but if you’re anything like me you need to know exactly what is going on, what’s the next step, and what can you do to speed up the process. Make a list of everything you need to see, sign, fax, email, request, etc.
Here comes the fun part. The follow up. Or should I say follow down? Take the bull by the horns and call all recipients of documentation (appraisers, other insurance companies, banks, rental companies, etc.) to ensure they’ve got what they need to get the job done. But remember, you’ve got the list of all the contacts and their direct phone numbers, so this should be much less painful then it could be. In my case, I realized everyone had sent the wrong information to each other and everyone was still waiting for the right documents to arrive. See what I mean when I say follow down?
Last but not least, just breathe. Now, take inventory of everything Mother What’s-her-face hasn’t taken away from you. It may be a slobbery kiss from your dog, a milk mustache on your toddler, or a big sweaty hug from someone who has just gotten home from the field and can serve as his or her own insect repellent. She may be fierce, but you’re fiercer.
What is the worst disaster you’ve had to deal with in the absence of your service member?