Pa. Commissioner Urges Policyholders to Review Policies on Weather Related Losses

May 30, 2003

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken has issued an announcement urging the state’s policyholders to review their insurance policies for information on coverage of property damage from weather-related disasters.

“Knowledge is a consumer’s best policy, and it is critical that consumers educate themselves and review their insurance policies before a weather- related disaster strikes,” Koken stated. “Thousands of Pennsylvanians have little or no insurance for certain weather catastrophes. Severe weather can strike at any time, and your best protection is to be aware and prepared.”

The bulletin listed the following measures policyholders should take to avoid catastrophic property losses:

1) Plan for a future claim. Take an inventory of property by making a video of the home, including each room and its contents, noting model numbers and serial numbers. Store the information off the premises, such as with a relative or in a safe-deposit box;
2) Talk to an insurance agent about insurance options and possible gaps in the current coverage;
3) Learn the facts about insurance. Different policies are available for homeowners, renters and owners of condominiums. Talk to an agent about the types of coverage needed; and
4) Learn the facts about flood insurance. A standard homeowner policy usually does not include flood protection. Coverage is available through the National Flood Insurance Program.

If a weather-related disaster does occur, Koken cautioned that policyholders should be aware of home-repair con artists. “Consumers need to be prepared and fully apprised of their situation so they are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous businesses or people. Examine your options, get more than one estimate for your loss, ask for and check references, and, most importantly, get everything in writing.”

The bulletin also reminded policyholders “Some insurance companies have disaster teams that are ready to go on site to help disaster victims protect their property from further loss and help facilitate claims payment. In certain situations, staff from the Department’s Bureau of Consumer Services may also be on site at disaster recovery centers to assist consumers with their insurance questions and needs.”

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