by Allison Teetsel on Oct 29, 2012
photo credit: NASA
With Hurricane Sandy poised to make landfall within the next 24 hours, homeowners and insurers alike are taking steps to prepare for the impending storm. Many insurers are working to assemble rapid-response teams, and are preparing to dispatch claims specialists to hard-hit communities once the storm subsides.
Despite even the best attempts at hurricane preparedness, there are some things that are unfortunately out of anyone's control. If you are affected by hurricane damage, it is important for you to report your claim as soon as possible. TheProfessional Insurance Agents Association addresses the following frequently asked questions regarding storm-related claims, and offers a number oftips designed to help homeowners through the claims process:
After you've filed your insurance claim, you should take all steps required to prevent further damage to your property. This may include securing property, temporarily boarding the windows and roof, and drying out your carpets and personal items. Separate damaged items from undamaged items, and take photographs of any damage.Do NOT begin any permanent repairs, or dispose of any damaged property before a claims adjuster is able to review the damage. In the case of water-logged carpets and furniture, you may remove these items from the home, placing them outside under a tarp. If you must throw out damaged items such as food and other perishables, make sure to take photographs clearly depicting the damage. Otherwise the damage may not be covered.Be sure to retain all receipts for emergency repairs and anything that may constitute additional living expenses (ie. Water, ice, room rentals, etc.).
Secure at least two repair estimates: Having a number of repair estimates for the adjuster to review will help with the settlement process.
Take photos of the damaged property: If you have before and after photos of the damage, both should be provided to the adjuster.
Most policies restrict coverage for living expenses to a percentage of the coverage on the home itself. To learn how much of your living expenses will be covered, consult with your insurance representative.
This depends on the type of damage incurred. Most standard dwelling and homeowners policies do not include coverage for trees that are damaged due to “weather perils” such as wind. However, if a tree falls and does damage to your home, fence, or other structure on your property, the damage would be covered.Separate windstorm coverage can be purchased as an added endorsement to your homeowners policy. Contact your insurance representative for more information.
While most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for “sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current “, this does not include damage to transistors, computer chips, and similar items. If you're unsure as to whether a certain item is covered, check your policy or contact your insurance representative for clarification.
If your homeowners policy indicates that settlement will be paid on a replace cost basis, then payment will be made for the actual cost to repair or replace at today's prices, according to the total amount of coverage that was purchased. If the adjustment basis is actual cash value, settlement will be made by determining the replacement cost at today's prices taking into consideration a reasonable amount for elements such as age or deprication. Some policies provide coverage for the home on a “guaranteed replacement cost” basis. In this situation, the carrier will pay whatever it costs to repair or rebuild the home, regardless of policy limits.
I was told I was “underinsured”. How is this possible?
There may have been certain changes that affected your policy coverage. The addition of a room, or an increase in the value of your home, for example, may affect your coverage. As a result, it is imperative to review your homeowners policy on a regular basis. Contact your insurance representative for details.
Being clear on the types and amount of coverage your policy allows before you file a claim can help to reduce the stress and guesswork involved in the insurance claims process. Contact your local insurance representative for assistance reviewing or updating your homeowners policy coverage.