Tips to stay money smart after storm damage
Division of Insurance reminds consumers to be wary of unscrupulous contractors.
DENVER (May 8, 2017) – Springtime in Colorado and severe weather -- hail storms, heavy snowstorms, tornadoes and floods -- often go hand in hand. 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. DOI also reminds consumers to stay smart, as storm damaged areas tend to bring out unscrupulous contractors looking to scam consumers.
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.
- 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. 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 such as the Better Business Bureau of Denver / Boulder, the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Colorado Roofing Association, and the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. The DOI reminds consumers to be on their guard for fraudulent roofing contractors: verify that the contractor you work with is authorized to do business in your area; do your homework and check references; and preferably hire a local Colorado contractor.
- Contact the 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) or email us - DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.
If you didn’t suffer any damage with any recent storms, there are still precautions you can take to be ready for severe weather this spring and summer.
- 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. 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 www.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 www.floodsmart.gov.
- Create a Home Inventory - Before any disaster strikes, consumers should recognize the value in creating a home inventory. DOI has developed a Home Inventory Checklist. 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.
Visit askDORA.colorado.gov 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.