Storm Damage - Claims Tips
The Ohio Department of Insurance’s statewide hotline is staffed by specially trained insurance analysts who can to offer assistance and information from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Messages can be left 24 hours a day, and calls are returned no later than the next business day. The toll-free number is (800) 686-1526.
Tips for property owners filing claims as a result of storm damage:
· Contact your insurance agent or company claims representative as soon as possible. If your insurer does not call you back or send an adjuster to your property within 3 days, call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 800-686-1526 for assistance.
· Try to protect against further losses by making temporary repairs. Keep receipts associated with such repairs, as these may be reimbursable under your homeowners insurance.
· If a loss forces you to obtain a temporary residence, be sure to inform your insurance company. Call the company and also leave information about how you can be contacted at your property in case an adjuster comes to the property for a damage assessment.
· Don’t throw damaged property away unless instructed to do so by your insurance adjuster, and don’t start permanent repairs without prior approval from your insurer.
· Obtain more than one estimate, and get everything in writing. Don’t be pressured into signing the first contract that is presented to you.
· Be sure to ask for references and check them before you sign a contract. Check with your local Better Business Bureau® to make sure the company has a good track record. In addition, the state Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section (800-282-0515) will often assist local communities in establishing a contractor registration program, to protect homeowners from scam artists and slipshod contractors after a disaster.
· Track all expenses associated with the loss and keep copies of all of your paperwork.
· You have the right to choose which contractor will repair your home. Your insurer may provide you with a list of pre-approved contractors, but as the policyholder, you have the final say in contractor selection.
· If are not able to negotiate an acceptable settlement with your insurer, call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 800-686-1526. The department, which regulates all insurance agents and companies within the state, is very effective at mediating disputes between policyholders and insurers.