Ohio Director Reminds Residents to be Prepared for Severe Weather; Updated Policies Key

January 6, 2005

As heavy rain continues to cause flooding across the state, Ohio Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin is urging Ohioans to plan for emergency situations by reviewing their insurance policies to determine whether they are adequately covered.

“If you do suffer damage it is important to understand the claims process,” said Womer Benjamin. “Our Consumer Services Division offers free advice on how to properly file any insurance claim and our insurance analysts can help consumers better understand what is covered under their policies.

“Many homeowners are under the assumption their homes are protected from flooding when they are not. Typical homeowners insurance policies do not include flood insurance,” Womer Benjamin said. “Flood insurance is almost always a separate policy.”

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides coverage to communities which have enforced flood plain management ordinances that are designed to reduce future flood losses.

In Ohio, more than 19,000 communities participate in the program. After a community qualifies for the NFIP, a flood insurance policy may be purchased from a licensed property and casualty agent. Generally, a 30-day waiting period precedes a new policy’s effective date.

Anyone with questions about severe weather preparedness and insurance claims should contact the Consumer Services Division at 1-800-686-1526.

The Ohio Department of Insurance offers the following severe weather planning and claim tips:

Advance insurance planning tips:

· Examine the homeowners or rental coverage, as well as auto policies.

· Be sure to have adequate coverage and deductibles that are reasonable for one’s needs.

· A home inventory will assist in settling claims. Compile a detailed written inventory of the home and belongings and supplement that inventory with a videotape or photographs. Keep the inventory off-premises in a safety deposit box.

· Since flood insurance is not included in routine homeowner and renter’s insurance policies, this is also a good time to check on the necessity and availability of flood insurance in one’s area. Call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-638-6620 to learn about flood insurance in the neighborhood.

If having suffered damage to the property due to a storm:

· Call the insurance company as soon as possible.

· Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage and losses. This will assist in settling claims.

· Be sure the agent knows how to contact individuals if they have to leave their home.

· If required to seek temporary housing, check the policy for “loss of use” coverage. Many policies cover such expenses up to a stated amount.

· Be sure everything is considered in the claim. Backup claims with written estimates.

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