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Hail season in Colorado can cause severe damage to cars and homes. Large hailstones impacted Colorado residents on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. If you are impacted by hail, don't leave adjustment of your insurance claim to chance! Take pictures of the hail next to a quarter or other item to show the size of the hailstone, or even take a video showing the severity of the storm. The Colorado Division of Insurance issued the following consumer advisory:
DENVER - Hail storms arrived in Colorado on Tuesday night, battering parts of Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties. With more wild weather and hail forecasted for Wednesday, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), is offering tips on working with your insurance company after suffering storm damage, as well as advice on being prepared when it comes to insurance and wild summer weather.
Tips for dealing with storm damage and insurance
- Start the claim process - Call your insurance company or agent and begin the claim process as soon as possible. Contact the DOI if you need the contact information for your company or agent.
- Document / mitigate the damage - If the damage to your home is extensive, when it is safe to do so, 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 assign a claims adjuster to work with you to assess the damage. 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.
- Estimates for repair costs can change - Remember, the first estimate for repairs is not always the final estimate. Contractors or body repair shops may often find additional damage once repairs begin. In these cases, it is important to provide additional information about this damage to your insurer before allowing repair work to continue. Improvements or repair work for damage that was not part of the storm will not be covered. Remember, you are responsible for your deductible. If damage estimates are below your deductible the company will not issue a payment.
Three tips to be prepared for severe weather this 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. The worst time to figure all of this out is when you need to file a claim, especially if you’re dealing with major damage.
- 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 through floodsmart.gov to get the name of an agent in your area. For more information, visit the Colorado Division of Insurance flood insurance website. This is critical for people who live near a burn scar caused by any of the wildfires in recent years, as these areas are especially vulnerable to flooding.
- Create a Home Inventory - Before any disaster strikes, consumers should recognize the value in creating a home inventory. There are many tools and applications available online to help you create a home inventory using your smartphone or tablet. It’s easier to create this now, rather than trying to remember everything after a disaster.
Visit the Division’s website “Are You Disaster Ready?” for more information about how you can be better prepared for disasters and severe weather events.