Friday, January 12, 2018

Insurance Dept. Advises Southwestern PA Property Owners On Filling Out Flood Damage Claims

Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman Friday advised property owners in southwestern Pennsylvania experiencing flooding from heavy rains on important actions to take when preparing and filing flood insurance claims.
She also reminded consumers that most standard homeowners’ policies do not include flood insurance, so a separate flood insurance policy is needed to cover flood damages.
“If your property is damaged by flooding, as soon as practical, call your insurer or agent,” Altman said. “The sooner you report your claim, the sooner your insurer can begin processing it.”
Altman said when you file your claim, you should have:
-- The name of your insurance company, if calling your agent and not the company directly. Agents often sell policies for more than one company.
-- Your policy number.
-- A phone number and/or e-mail where you can be reached.
Property owners should whenever possible take photographs or videos of water in their homes and any damaged personal property. Also make a list of damaged, destroyed, or lost items, including the items’ age and value as near as possible. Gather receipts for as many items as you can.
“When you call to file your claim, ask your insurer or agent for an approximate time frame during which an adjuster can be expected to visit your property, so you can plan accordingly,” Altman said. “An adjuster will work with you to calculate the value of the damage and prepare a repair estimate.”
If local officials require the disposal of any damaged items before the adjuster arrives, keep a swatch or other sample of the damaged items for the adjuster. Only make temporary repairs necessary for you to live in the home before the adjuster prepares any repair estimates. Permanent repairs made without insurer approval may be denied. If a contractor prepares damage estimates, provide these to the adjuster.
“It’s also important to make sure anyone offering to do repairs on your home is properly licensed. Home improvement contractors who do more than $5,000 of business per year in Pennsylvania must register with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection,” Altman said. “Don’t pay a contractor in full, or sign that the work is complete, until all the work is actually done.”
Important tips for making sure repair work is done by a reputable contractor and how to protect yourself against home repair scams is available in an Insurance Department brochure titled “After the Storm.”
For more information, visit the Insurance Department’s Flood Insurance webpage.
Altman said consumers with any questions or concerns can visit the department website, or call the Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388.

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