Dealing with flood, fire or other serious damage to a home can be an extremely stressful experience, as owners attempt to secure precious belongings, protect their home against further damage and document their loss for insurance purposes.

Words of advice come from nearly every angle, as everyone from friends, family and neighbors to insurance company adjusters to lawyers and contractors offer recommendations. But who can the homeowner trust, and whose advice should they take?

Many insured policyholders don’t realize that they are responsible for documenting and proving their claim in the event of a loss, and that moving too quickly with repairs can often keep them from receiving the compensation they deserve.