Maine Bureau of Insurance Issues Consumer Alert on Weather Related Property Damage
April 17, 2007
AUGUSTA, MAINE – The Bureau of Insurance issued a Consumer Alert on Tuesday to provide information and assistance to individuals adversely impacted by recent storms. The Bureau’s Acting Superintendent, Eric Cioppa, 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,” Acting Commissioner Cioppa commented.
- Move quickly to contact your insurance agent. Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible to report your loss. If you have flood insurance, start by calling your insurance agent to report your claim. 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. If possible, photograph the outside of the premises, showing the flooding or other damage. Also, photograph the inside of the premises, if applicable, to show damaged property and the height of flood waters.
- Figure out extent of damage. Separate the damaged from the undamaged property and put it in the best possible order for the adjuster's examination. If possible, protect the property from further damage.
- 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.
To prepare for future storms and possible natural disasters, the Bureau of Insurance recommends a number of proactive steps:
- 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. Hurricane damage is covered under a homeowner's policy, but 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, make sure to 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 more information, contact NFIP at 1-800-638-6620 or visit http://www.floodsmart.gov
- Contact the Bureau of Insurance. If you have questions or concerns related to damage that has recently occurred, 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 http://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 Department online at http://www.maine.gov/pfr