Consumer Alert: Five insurance tips for storm damage
Division of Insurance can help with insurance and claims questionsMany Coloradans woke up Friday morning to the aftermath of severe storms and damage to their homes and property. These events were only the latest reminder of the damage severe storms can bring.
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), encourages consumers to “Take 5 to Get Wise” when handling insurance, claims and repairs in the wake of storm damage.
Five Tips for Dealing with Storm Damage and Insurance
- Start the claim process - Call your insurance company or agent and begin the claim process. Contact DOI if you need the contact information for your company or agent.
- Document / mitigate the damage - If the damage to your home is extensive, start taking photos of the property and documenting what was lost. If the damage is repairable, mitigate further damage by placing tarps on roofs or boarding up windows.
- Check contractors - Roofing contractors and other construction contractors will start door-to-door sales or phone solicitations. As with other disasters, consumers need to be on the alert for predatory practices or promises that seem too good to be true. Verify what your city or county requires concerning licensing or registration of contractors - make sure the contractor you work with is authorized to do business in your area. Do your homework, check references and preferably hire a local Colorado contractor.
- Verify public adjusters - Public adjusters may also begin contacting you if you have suffered damage to your home. You are not required to hire a public adjuster, but if you do, make sure he or she is licensed and reputable – check references. If possible, hire a Colorado-based adjuster. DOI licenses public adjusters and consumers can call the Division to verify a license. Public adjusters work on behalf of a consumer and receive a negotiated commission based on the final payment of the claim. They sign a contract with a consumer to assist in negotiating the consumer’s insurance claim.
- Contact DOI –While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, DOI can assist consumers with questions about insurance and the claims process. Call the Division at 303-894-7490 or 1-800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area).
Flood InsuranceWith heavy rains and other severe weather more likely in the warmer months, now is the time to consider flood insurance. Many homeowners do not realize that their basic homeowners insurance does not include protection from flood damage. Flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federally subsidized program available to any property owner – homeowners, renters, condominium owners and associations - whether or not the property is in floodplain. National Flood Insurance is sold through a private insurance agent selling it to a community that has joined NFIP. Contact your insurance agent about buying flood insurance. If you do not have an agent or your agent does not sell flood insurance, contact the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or go to www.floodsmart.gov to get the name of an agent in your area.
Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period, after applying and paying the first premium, for the insurance to become effective.
For more information, visit the Colorado Division of Insurance flood insurance webpage or the FEMA / NFIP website www.floodsmart.gov.
Home InventoriesBefore any disaster strikes, consumers should recognize the value in creating a home inventory. An inventory helps consumers in determining what’s been lost and in working with their insurance company. DOI has developed a Home Inventory Checklist for download that is a good starting point.
In addition, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has created a smartphone app to help homeowners and renters develop a Home Inventory Checklist. Find information on the app at www.naic.org, under the “Consumer Resources” tab.
The Colorado Division of Insurance regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit www.dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call303-894-7499 / toll free 1-800-930-3745.
DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit www.dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855/toll free 1-800-886-7675.