Augusta, ME – December 18, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — Governor John E. Baldacci joined Maine’s Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman in issuing a Consumer Alert on Monday to provide information and assistance to individuals adversely impacted by recent storms.
Superintendent Kofman outlined a series of actions that would benefit homeowners and others affected by weather-related property damage.
“As soon as conditions safely permit, consumers are encouraged to follow the steps recommended by the Bureau of Insurance, and to contact this agency with questions and concerns. We also urge Maine people to plan ahead for future storms and weather-related emergencies,” Superintendent Kofman commented.
– Move quickly to contact your insurance agent. Get in touch with your insurance agent/ company as soon as possible to report your loss. Have your policy information ready. The agent will prepare a “Notice of Loss” form and an adjuster will be assigned to assist you. Follow the instructions given to you by claims personnel. Since many people may need help at this time, anything you have done before the storm to prepare for a loss will benefit you now.
– Take notes. When contacting the insurance provider, keep a record of the people you spoke to, when the conversation occurred, and summarize the discussion. Ask questions if you do not understand instructions.
– Take photos. If possible, photograph or videotape all damage.
– Figure out extent of damage. Separate damaged from undamaged property and put it in the best possible order for the adjuster’s examination. If possible, protect property from further damage.
– Save receipts, including those from temporary repairs that are covered by your insurance policy.
– Additional Coverage for Living Expenses? If your home is damaged and you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.
Wait for the adjuster to arrive. Do not call anyone to repair or replace your loss without first getting instructions from your adjuster since your insurer’s visual inspection of your loss may be necessary before repairs should occur. Do not throw away damaged property until your adjuster says it’s appropriate to do so. If your home is damaged, make only temporary repairs until a claims adjuster looks at the damage. Making permanent repairs before the adjuster’s inspection could trigger a denial of your claim.
What Damage to Your Home is Covered?
Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a structure caused by weight of ice or snow are all covered under most standard homeowners policies.
Frozen pipes due to extreme cold might not be covered if the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there.
Check your policy and call your insurance agent or company if you need clarification or have specific questions.
What Damage to Your Home is Not Covered?
The following events are typically not covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy:
– Interior water damage from a storm when there is no damage to the roof or walls;
– Damage as the result of a flood;
– Removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not land on and damage your home);
– Food spoilage due to a power outage;
– Water damage from backed-up drains or sewers.
Some insurers offer endorsements (i.e., additional protection that you can buy) for specific coverage not included in the standard homeowner policy. Check with your agent or company to determine your needs.
To prepare for future storms and possible natural disasters, the Bureau of Insurance urges Mainers to:
– Plan now for a possible future claim. Inventory personal property, including all model names and serial numbers. Don’t overlook items used seasonally or infrequently, such special china and silverware, holiday decorations, summer and winter sports equipment, and carpentry tools. Save sales receipts and photographs. Consider videotaping rooms. Store the information off-premises, such as in a bank safe deposit box.
– Review insurance coverage to make sure it is adequate. It is important to insure your home and belongings to their full replacement cost. Flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowner’s policies, so ask your agent about the National Flood Insurance Program. If you rent a house or apartment, talk to your agent about renters’ insurance.
– Learn the facts about flood insurance. You can protect your home, business, and belongings with flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP flood insurance can be purchased from private insurance companies and agents. Whether you rent or own your home or business, ask your agent about contents coverage. It is not automatically included with the NFIP building coverage. There is usually a 30-day waiting period before the flood coverage goes into effect. For information, contact NFIP at 1-800-638-6620 or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
– Contact the Bureau of Insurance. If you have questions related to recent damage, or if you’d like additional information in order to prepare for the future, contact the Maine Bureau of Insurance toll-free by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or visit (www.maine.gov/insurance).
The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation which encourages sound ethical business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can reach the Bureau through its web site at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.