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Tips for Ohioans Impacted by severe weather

• Mar 4, 2018 at 4:00 PM

With change from winter into spring comes plenty of severe weather and even a few natural disasters, damaging many homes, cars or other properties. 

Ohio Department of Insurance director Jillian Froment provided insurance information to help Ohioans impacted by the recent severe weather with the recovery process.

“People who have experienced damage should contact their insurance agent or company right away to potentially initiate the claim filing process,” Froment said. “Insurance experts at the Ohio Department of Insurance are also available to answer any insurance questions.”

Damage caused by rain, hail, lightning, wind and tornado are generally covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, renters insurance policy and an auto insurance policy’s “comprehensive” or “other than collision” coverage.

Flood insurance is not included in a typical homeowners or renters insurance policy, Froment said. It’s made available by the federal National Flood Insurance Program and purchased through an insurance agent. Typically there is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to start.

If you suffered storm damage, here are the steps you should follow before and when filing your claim:

• Immediately call your insurance agent or company.

• Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage if permitted by public safety authorities.

•Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.

• If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for “loss of use” coverage.

• Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.

During the recovery process follow these steps:

• Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.

• Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.

• Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home. If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch them conduct the inspection. Obtain, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.

• Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully.

• Pay the contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash, and do not pay in full until all work has been finished.

Consumers with insurance questions can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 and visit www.insurance.ohio.gov, which includes a severe weather recovery toolkit, for information.

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