Pa. Commissioner Offers Tips for Storm Victims

July 15, 2004

After the devastation left by storms that swept through the state this week, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken has reminded consumers that the Insurance Department is ready to assist with their insurance questions and needs.

“People are overwhelmed with grief and confusion as they try to pick up the pieces from yesterday’s storm,” Koken said. “The Department
is here to help with insurance-related questions and to offer tips to help get through the claims process.”

The following tips include:

* If one suffers property loss in your home or vehicle, contact their
agent or insurance company as soon as possible to arrange a visit
from an adjuster.

* Before doing any repairs to one’s house, photograph and make a list
of the damage. Photograph or video the damaged area. Pull out any
inventory lists that one keeps of their home’s contents.

* Protect the home from further damage by making temporary repairs
until the insurance company is able to offer advice. Save any receipts for materials purchased for repairs. Do not throw away damaged property until the claims adjuster advises to do so.

* Do not have permanent repairs made until the insurance company has inspected the property and one has reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. If one does make permanent repairs before the adjuster has seen the damage, one’s claim could be denied.

* Most damage resulting from fallen trees is covered by one’s homeowner’s policy. Check with one’s agent or company before calling
the tree removal service as removal costs may also be covered. Also, one may find themselves responsible if one of their trees has fallen on a neighbor’s property. Again, check with one’s agent or company.

* Remember, no homeowner’s policy covers flooding. The only way to
protect one’s property from flood losses is to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Policies must be in place for 30 days before coverage takes effect. Contact an agent for more information.

* If one’s claim is denied, review the terms of the policy for what is or is not covered. One may also file an appeal to their insurance company’s claim manager. If questions remain, feel free to contact the Insurance Department.

* Be careful – there are a lot of good people and repair firms out
there who want to help and can. But there are others who may take advantage when one is most in need. Guard against home repair con artists. Make sure to be working with a credible firm. Investigate the performance of any firm one is thinking of hiring. Consult the Better Business Bureau.

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