Insurance questions arise in wake of storms

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With all the rain and flooding, some residents may be wondering what’s covered under their insurance.

Ellie Platt with Platt Insurance group said a standard home owner’s policy does not include flooding. A separate policy needs to be purchased from your agent through the Federal Government’s National Flood Insurance Program.

“It provides coverage for your building as well as your contents, so they are covered separately,” said Platt. “There’s a deductible that applies to both, but there’s coverage for both. The rates depend on how much coverage you’re getting and the levels of risk.”

When flood insurance is added, there is a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect. A standard home owner’s policy often covers other damage caused by storms, but homeowners need to contact their insurance agent.

Ohio Lt. Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor offered information Thursday on how residents should handle storm damage and offered tips on the insurance claim filing process.

Taylor cautioned residents to beware of fraudulent contractors trying to take advantage of people in need of property repairs.

“Those impacted by recent severe weather should contact their insurance agent immediately to begin the claims process.” Taylor said. “Most homeowners and business policies provide coverage for repairs following hail, tornadoes, and windstorms. Consumers experiencing problems during the claims process can contact the Department of Insurance for assistance.”

The Ohio Department of Insurance has created a Severe Storm Recovery Toolkit which provides facts about windstorms and insurance, and tips on how to avoid a deceitful contractor.

If you have suffered damage because of the storms, Taylor advises the following:

• Call your insurance agent or company as soon as you can. Be sure your agent knows how to contact you, especially if you have to move out of your home.

• Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage if permitted by public safety authorities and if you will not endanger yourself.

• Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.

• If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for “loss of use” coverage.

• Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.

Tips to avoid fraud:

• Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.

• Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.

• Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.

• If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch them conduct the inspection.

• Obtain, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.

• Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.

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