Consumer Advisory: More spring storms, more tips from the Division of Insurance
Managing the damage and the claims process.
DENVER (May 19, 2017) – As more wild spring weather drives through Colorado, the Colorado Division of Insurance, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), asks consumers to “Take 5 to Get Wise” and check these tips on dealing with insurance claims resulting from storm damage.
What you can do now
- Understand Your Insurance Coverage - Take time to review your policy and see what kind of damage is covered and what is excluded. Be sure you understand the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value. Know that while standard homeowners or renter's policies do not cover flood damage, flooding from wind-driven rain that enters through a wind-damaged window or door, a hole in a wall or the roof is generally included in most homeowners policies. Find more information on flood insurance below.
Immediately Following the Storms
- What kind of damage? - With these spring rain and snow storms, you obviously want to look out for water damage in and around your home. Also, in places that saw significant amounts of heavy, wet snow, check for sagging roofs and fallen tree limbs, which can threaten homes and cars.
- Document the damage - While your first instinct may be to clean up, it is important to have an accurate account of any damage when you make your claim. Take photos or video and make a list of the damages or damaged items.
- Make temporary repairs - Once you have documented the damage, take reasonable steps to make temporary repairs and prevent further damage (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don’t make permanent repairs until your insurer has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost. If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurer or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
- File claims as soon as possible - Contact your agent or your company as soon as possible. Most companies have a time requirement to file claims. Be sure to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will cause delays.
- Protect yourself from fraud - Depending on the kind of damage a storm inflicts, roofing contractors and other construction contractors will start door-to-door sales or phone solicitations. While most contractors are honest and reputable, some are not. The DOI participates in the #NoRoofScams campaign, which works to remind consumers to be on their guard for fraudulent roofing contractors.
After filing your claim
After you file your claim, your insurance company will send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage at no cost to you. The adjuster will walk through and around your home to see any damaged items or temporary repairs you made to make the home safe. Once the adjuster has completed their assessment, they will provide documentation of the loss to your insurance company to determine your claims settlement.
- Ask questions - Ask the claims adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer. If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for the specific language in the policy that is in question. If this disagreement results in a claim denial, make sure you obtain a written letter explaining the reason for the denial and the specific policy language under which the claim is being denied.
- Don't rush into a settlement - If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement. If you have any questions regarding the fairness of your settlement, seek professional advice.
About flood insurance...
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines flooding as a general and temporary condition where two or more properties or two or more acres of normally dry land are inundated by water or mudflow. However, just because you don't live near a body of water doesn't mean that you're safe from flooding. The NFIP calculates that consumers outside of high-risk flood areas account for more than one in five flood insurance claims.
Because homeowners insurance does not typically cover flood losses, flood insurance is available through the NFIP. It may be purchased through licensed property and casualty insurance agents or through many private insurance companies. Typically, there's a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before a policy goes into effect. There are eligibility restrictions to qualify for National Flood Insurance. Please contact the NFIP with eligibility questions at (800) 427-4661 or visit the NFIP's website.
If you have questions about your insurance and the insurance process, the Division of Insurance has experts to help. Contact us at 303-894-7490 / 1-800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area) / DORA_insurance@state.co.us. For more information, visit askDORA.colorado.gov.
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 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 dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675.