As the Northeast and New England states brace for a major blizzard, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi is offering policyholders tips on preparing for the storm and filing claims if there is property loss.
“One of the most important things consumers can do right now is take stock of what they have. Take the time now to make a home inventory or update an existing one,” Commissioner Leonardi said. “This will be extremely helpful should the need arise to file a claim. Do not hesitate to contact the insurance department if you have questions or complaints.”
Commissioner Leonardi offered the following advice on what types of damages may or may not be covered. The commissioner said, however, that policies may vary in coverage. He recommended that consumers contact their insurance agent or the state insurance department with questions about the specifics of their policies.
• Snow removal: Homeowners insurance does not cover injuries to the homeowner during snow removal. However, snow removal professionals should be covered under their own liability policies
• Ice dams: Interior or exterior damage caused by an ice dam on a roof is generally covered. However, many policies do not pay for ice dam removal.
• Frozen pipes: Most policies cover pipe replacement and water damage. However, coverage may not apply if the homeowner turned off the furnace for the winter without winterizing the home.
• Tree Damage: In general, the policyholder of the property that is damaged by a falling tree – not the tree owner – should file the claim with his or her insurance company. The insurance policy covers the cost to remove the tree from the damaged property and the resulting damage, minus the deductible. If the tree damaged a covered structure, the claim would be made on the homeowner’s policy. If the tree damaged a vehicle, the claim would be made on the auto insurance policy.
• Storm power outages: An all-risk policy generally pays for damage caused by loss of power and appliances damaged by the outage. Check the policy to see if it covers spoiled food. Most policies will not pay for shelter when the homeowner loses power for extended periods of time unless there is damage to the home that causes it to be uninhabitable.
• Renters: Landlord’s insurance will pay for winter damage to building. It will not pay for damage to personal contents, which must be covered by the renter’s own insurance.
Before the storm, the commissioner recommends the following steps for consumers:
• Keep the policy and other important documents together in a safe place.
• Review the policy to understand the coverage – call the company or agent with questions.
• Create or update the home inventory. Take photos of the possessions and Note model and serial numbers. Assemble original sales receipts and/or appraisal documents.
After the storm, consumers are advised to take following steps if damages have been sustained:
• Call the insurance company’s 24-hour claims phone number as soon as possible; provide policy number and other relevant information and documents.
• Take photographs/video of the damage. Make repairs necessary to prevent further damage, but do not make permanent repairs until the insurance company inspects the damage.
• Save all receipts from temporary repairs.
• Keep a diary of all conversations, e-mails and other correspondence with the company.