A tree fell on the roof, strong winds blew out the car windows, the sewer backed up into the basement. Storm damage comes in many forms. Will insurance cover the damage? It depends on what caused the damage and it depends on the insurance. Timothy Griesdorn, Iowa State University Extension and specialist in family finance, suggests reviewing your insurance coverage every year to make sure it meets your needs.
For example, a homeowner's policy may cover the damage from a tree falling on the roof, but it doesn't cover damage from a flood, he points out. Homeowners need to have a separate flood insurance policy to guard against that risk.
"Ideally, you should review your insurance coverage every year when you renew your policies to make sure your coverage continues to meet your needs. But sometimes it takes storm damage to get people to take action," says Timothy Griesdorn, Iowa State University Extension specialist in family finance. He is located in ISU's Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
"If you have weather-related property damage, contact your insurance agent or the insurance company as soon as possible to report the claim," Griesdorn says. "Ask what information your agent or company will need."
He suggests following these recommendations offered by the Iowa Insurance Division, an agency of the state government:
- When contacting your insurance agent or company, take good notes. Keep track of the representative's name, and the date and time of the call.
- Document losses. Take photographs of the damaged property.
- Make temporary repairs to protect the property from further damage, but don't make permanent repairs until after talking to the insurance company's adjuster. The company may require a visual inspection before it will process the claim.
- If the claim is denied and the denial seems improper, first review the policy. Then, appeal to the insurance agent or the company's claim manager. For information about further action, contact the state office Iowa Insurance Division, located in Des Moines, at 877-955-1212.
"It's a good idea to plan for future claims. You never know when the next storm will cause damage," says Griesdorn.
Griesdorn suggests that farm owners, businesses, home owners and renters inventory their personal property and store the information in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box at a bank or other financial institution, but not at the insured property. To make the inventory and other record keeping easier, order a copy of "Getting Organized: Personal and Financial Records" (PM 1121), for $2.00 from the ISU Extension Online Store, https://store.extension.iastate.edu/.