Storm damage insurance claims: Tips & avoiding fraud

9:45 AM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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Photo submitted via the WKYC Facebook page by Kenneth Joseph in Carrollton.
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  • COLUMBUS -- After Wednesday's storms swept through, many Ohioans are now dealing with damage they need to fix.

    Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor released a list of tips for those who need to file insurance claims as a result of storm damage.

    PHOTOS | Viewer-submitted pics of July 10, 2013 storms

    "Those impacted by recent severe weather should contact their insurance agent immediately to being the claims process," Taylor said. "Most homeowners and business policies provide coverage for repairs following hail, tornadoes and windstorms. Consumers experiencing problems during the claims process can contact the Department of Insurance for assistance."

    For those who suffered damage from a storm, Taylor suggests the following:

    - Call your insurance agent or company as soon as you can. Be sure your agent knows how to contact you, especially if you have to move out of your home.

    - Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage if permitted by public safety authorities and if you will not endanger yourself.

    - 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.

    Tips to avoid becoming a victim of contractor fraud:

    - 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 and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.

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


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