If your homeowners association property has been damaged in a natural disaster—hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake or fire — there are some important steps you can take in the immediate aftermath to ensure your safety and minimize financial loss.
Enter with caution
Damaged homes or buildings after a natural disaster could be structurally unsafe; use extreme caution when navigating those areas, and don’t enter unless absolutely necessary. Debris and other hazards are unsafe.
Secure the property
In cases of significant structural damage or security concerns, determine whether the damaged area needs to be secured with temporary fencing or another type of barrier to keep out unwanted guests.
Notify your insurer
Resident’s should notify their insurance company or your homeowners association's insurance company to inform them there’s been a disaster and to file an official claim. The HOA manager may also be a first contact to help give direction. Take down the claim number and any relevant contact information for whomever will handle your claim. If your vehicle sustained damage, contact your automobile insurer.
Notify utility companies
If property damage includes disruption to water, gas or electric utilities, contact the companies right away to shut off service. Failing to do so could pose a safety risk to you or emergency responders in and around the disaster area.
Take photos of the damage
Beginning with the property’s exterior, take photographs of the damage. If it’s safe to enter the structure, take photographs of interior damage as well. These will come in handy for insurance purposes.
Take inventory of your damaged belongings
Make a list of your damaged personal items and ensure you have photographs. Include the price of large appliances or valuable items with your list and, if possible, surviving receipts.
Depending on the time of year in Northern California, there are areas mainly threatened by wildfires or flooding. If you live in a homeowners association, find out about natural disasters you should prepare for and be sure to take action by having a plan in place.