Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken has reminded consumers to review their insurance policies and offered a brochure entitled “Are You Ready if a Disaster Strikes?” to provide strategies for people whose homes and businesses suffer weather-related property damage.
“It’s critical for consumers to educate themselves and review their
insurance policies before a weather-related disaster strikes,” Koken said, noting that consumers first need to make sure they have
appropriate coverage for their home or business. “Severe weather can strike at any time, and the lessons learned during the devastation from previous storms and flooding help us to be prepared for future losses. The time to prepare is now – before a weather-related disaster results in costly losses.”
Koken outlined several steps to take to prepare for a weather-related disaster:
1. Take an inventory of your property, 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 one’s 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 does not include flood protection.
If a weather-related disaster does occur, Koken also offers the following tips to homeowners affected by severe weather:
— If one suffers property loss in their home or vehicle, contact an agent or insurance company as soon as possible to arrange a visit from an adjuster.
— Before doing any repairs to a house, photograph and make a list of the damage. Photograph or video the damaged area.
— Protect the home from further damage by making temporary repairs until an insurance company is able to provide advise. Save any receipts for materials purchased for repairs. Do not throw away damaged property until the claims adjuster advises one 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, the claim could be denied.
— Most damage resulting from fallen trees is covered by one’s homeowner’s policy. Check with the agent or company before calling
the tree removal service as removal costs may also be covered. Also,
one may find they are responsible if one of their trees has fallen on a neighbor’s property. Again, check with an 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 a 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 before thinking of hiring. Consult the Better Business Bureau.
To obtain a free copy of the brochure, “Are You Ready if a Disaster
Strikes?” consumers can call the toll-free automated consumer hotline at 1-877-881-6388, visit the Pennsylvania Insurance Department Web site at http://www.insurance.state.pa.us or call the department’s Bureau of Consumer Services at:
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