Displaying items by tag: Insurance
Extreme weather conditions in Colorado are becoming increasingly common. At the beginning of this summer, who would have guessed that there would be a hail-storm that canceled a Red Rocks concert or a tornado tearing through Highlands Ranch? The property damage resulting from the extreme weather conditions is, unfortunately, becoming more and more common. To set yourself up for success when dealing with your insurance carrier to get proper payments for your loss, it’s important to know the best ways to document these storms and the damage they inflict.
The goal is to document what was damaged and the extent of that damage. Take a hail-storm for example, the gold standard would be having before and after pictures of your roof. Having before and after pictures makes it easier for you to show the damage was a result of the hail-storm and not regular wear and tear. Don’t panic if you don’t have any before pictures, the next best thing you can do is to make a record of the storm and damage. You can do this by taking pictures and videos of the damage; taking pictures of the hail and comparing its size to ordinary household objects; taking videos of the storm; saving weather reports from the day of the storm; etc. For example, if you have a tile roof you might see tiles littering the ground following a severe hail-storm. Take pictures of any broken tiles you find before cleaning up!
These tips apply to any type of damage, whether it be from a hail-storm, wind-storm, flash flood, tornado, or fire. It is important to make a record of the damage and the storm that caused it. You want your record to show:
- What was damaged (so take pictures of the roof, windows, siding, floors, etc.),
- The extent of the damage (take pictures of anything showing how bad the damage was, for example, take pictures of broken windows, broken branches, etc.),
- When the damage occurred (you can save weather reports showing the date of the storm and take pictures with timestamps noting the date of the storm),
- Any steps you took to prevent the damage or prevent any further damage (for example, take pictures of tarps on your roof to prevent leaks).
Once you file your claim, it’s important to make a record of any communications you have with your insurance carrier. Document when and how you notified your carrier of the damage and any conversations you have -- don’t be afraid to follow up via email to confirm important conversations.
Be sure to save any and all documentation for a few years, just in case anything comes up in the future. Sometimes, after you have the repair work done on your roof that your insurance carrier approved, you may have more leaks in the future, because it turns out that there was more damage than what your carrier anticipated.
Remember, even though making a record is important, nothing is more important than your safety!
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.
Given the increasing risk of wildfires impacting Colorado neighborhoods and residents’ struggles in managing and receiving payment on their insurance claims, Colorado recently passed House Bill 22-1111 which provides additional assistance and insurance payment requirements for wildfire victims. The bill establishes new coverage and payment requirements for insurance companies in the event a policyholder experiences a total loss due to a fire disaster as declared by the Colorado governor. Always remember to review your insurance policy as it may contain additional terms or benefits beyond what is required by law.
Dwelling Coverage: Under the new legislation, insurance companies must now allow wildfire victims 36 months with two 6-month extension opportunities (as opposed to the prior 12-month requirement) in order to rebuild or relocate following a wildfire and still recover depreciation. In addition, insurers may not limit or deny a policyholder’s recovery of ordinance and law and extended replacement cost coverages on the basis that the policyholder is rebuilding in a different location or purchasing a new home instead of rebuilding. Insurance companies must also reimburse their policyholders for the cost of debris removal services within 60 days of receiving a receipt for those services.
Additional Living Expense Coverage: The policy must also provide for at least 24 months of additional living expense reimbursement with two 6-month extension opportunities.
Contents Coverage: The prior Colorado statute required reimbursement of at least 30% of the value of the policyholder’s contents without having to supply a written inventory to the insurance company. Under the new legislation, the insurance company is now required to pay a minimum of 65% of the value of content coverage without the policyholder needing to provide a written inventory of the contents. This is just the statutory minimum - the actual amount owed upfront may be more depending on the text of the insurance policy or by agreement with your insurance company.
Once the victim of a wildfire submits an inventory of lost contents, the new legislation requires insurance companies to request any additional information from the victim within 30 days, and to pay out claims for undisputed, insured items within 30 days after receipt of the inventory list. The policy must also provide policyholders with the greater of 365 days after the expiration of additional living expense coverage or 36 months after the insurer provided the first actual cash value payment to recover depreciation on contents.
Underinsurance Assistance: If the dwelling limits of insurance are insufficient to rebuild the home, under the new legislation wildfire victims can use other coverages to supplement the dwelling limit.
House Bill 22-1111 does not apply to previous wildfires such as the Marshall Fire. However, many insurers told the Colorado Division of Insurance that they would provide Marshall Fire victims with additional benefits, assistance, and extensions on their coverages. If you have questions about how best to leverage these agreements, the attorneys at MoGo LLC can help!
How to request a copy of your policy
Under current Colorado law, your insurance company must give you an electronic copy of your policy within three business days of a written request.
For example, send an email to your adjuster stating:
“Please send me a copy of my insurance policy, including the declaration page and any endorsements, within three business days.”
Your insurance company owes you what is stated in your insurance policy. If you have any questions and/or are struggling to receive the information or benefits owed under your insurance policy, contact the attorneys at MoGo LLC for assistance.