More wild weather, more tips from the Division of Insurance
Be prepared for severe weather this season.
DENVER (May 28, 2019) – It was a wild weekend of spring weather all over Colorado - tornadoes, hail, thunderstorms and winter storm warnings. Fortunately, many of the watches, warnings and forecasts did not result in a great deal of damage, but all of it serves as a timely reminder about what people can do to be prepared. The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) offers these tips.
Three tips to be prepared for severe weather this spring and summer
If you didn’t suffer any damage in recent storms, there are still precautions you can take to be ready for severe weather this season.
- Become familiar with your homeowners insurance policy - Know what’s in your policy. Ask your company or agent if there is anything you don’t understand. Also, review your policy and coverage limits annually to make sure the policy keeps pace with your needs and construction costs in your area.
- Consider Buying Flood Insurance - Now is the time to consider flood insurance, as there is a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective. Many homeowners do not realize that flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program available to any property owner whether or not the property is in a floodplain. 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 floodsmart.gov to get the name of an agent in your area. For more information, visit the Colorado Division of Insurance flood insurance webpage or the FEMA / NFIP website floodsmart.gov.
- Create a Home Inventory - Before any disaster strikes, consumers should recognize the value in creating a home inventory. The DOI has developed a Home Inventory Checklist to get you started. 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 naic.org, under the “Consumer Resources” tab.
If you did suffer weather-related damage this weekend, here are some tips on handling insurance claims in the aftermath of storm damage.
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.
- Ask questions - 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. Once the adjuster has completed their assessment, they will provide documentation of the loss to your insurance company to determine your claims settlement. Be sure to 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 the 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.
- Contact the DOI – While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, the 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) or email us - DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.
Also, be sure to do your homework about people who may contact you to help with your damaged property.
- Verify public adjusters - Public adjusters may contact 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. The DOI licenses public adjusters and consumers can call the Division to verify a license. Public adjusters work on behalf of a consumer and often charge a percentage of the claim amount. The fee is agreed upon in the contract between the public adjuster and the consumer. This cost is not included in the claim amount paid by the insurer.
- Protect Yourself from Roofing Fraud - In the wake of a hail storm, roofing contractors and other construction contractors start door-to-door sales or phone solicitations. While most contractors are honest and reputable, some make false promises, insist on full payment before the work is complete, and may even create damage where none occurred. The DOI participates in the #NoRoofScams campaign with a number of other organizations - find more information at the Better Business Bureau’s site You've Been Hit with Hail, What's Next.
Visit askDORA.colorado.gov and click on “insurance” under “Consumer Topics” for more information and resources about how to protect yourself as a consumer.
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.