Colorado hit by unusual weather event over the weekend.
DENVER (June 8, 2020) – According to the Colorado Climate Center at CSU, Saturday in Colorado saw what was probably the state’s first recorded derecho. What is a derecho? According to the Denver Post, a derecho is a wide and long-lived line of damage-producing severe thunderstorms. In other words, it was not a usual spring thunderstorm, but one with severe winds in excess of 50 MPH, and going over 75 MPH at times, spreading across a large part of the state.
There are likely some people who suffered storm-related damage to their homes and / or cars on Saturday. To help, the Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, is offering these tips to help people with insurance claims.
Tips for dealing with storm damage and insurance
- Start the claim process - Call your insurance company or agent and begin the claim process. Contact the DOI if you need the contact information for your company or agent.
- Document / mitigate the damage - If the damage to your home is extensive, start taking photos of the property and documenting what was lost. If the damage is repairable, mitigate further damage by placing tarps on roofs or boarding up windows.
- Ask questions - After you file your claim, work with your insurance company on how your claim will work. In these times of social distancing, companies are not always sending out adjusters, and instead are using different technologies -- video, drone, etc. -- to assess damage. Once that is done, an adjuster will provide documentation of the loss to your insurance company to determine your claims settlement. Be sure to ask for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer. If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for the specific language in the policy that is in question. If this disagreement results in a claim denial, make sure you obtain a written letter explaining the reason for the denial and the specific policy language under which the claim is being denied.
- Estimates for repair costs can change - Remember, the first estimate for repairs is not always the final estimate. Contractors or body repair shops may often find additional damage once repairs begin. In these cases, it is important to provide additional information about this damage to your insurer before allowing repair work to continue. Improvements or repair work for damage that was not part of the storm will not be covered.
- Contact the DOI – While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, the DOI can assist consumers with questions about insurance and the claims process. Call the Division at 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area) or email us - DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.
If Saturday’s storm did not cause damage to your home or car, remember that spring and summer in Colorado will bring more severe weather, and there are still precautions you can take to be ready.
Tips to be prepared for severe weather this spring and summer
- Become familiar with your homeowners and auto insurance policies - Know what’s in your policies. Ask your company or agent if there is anything you don’t understand. And when it comes to your auto insurance, know that storm or flood damage is only covered if you have comprehensive coverage on the vehicle. Also, review these policies and coverage limits annually to make sure they keep pace with your needs, construction costs in your area (for homeowners insurance) and the age and use of your vehicle.
- Consider Buying Flood Insurance - Now is the time to consider flood insurance, as there is a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective. Many homeowners do not realize that flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program available to any property owner whether or not the property is in a floodplain. If you do not have an agent or your agent does not sell flood insurance, contact the NFIP at 888-379-9531 or go to www.floodsmart.gov to get the name of an agent in your area. For more information, visit the Colorado Division of Insurance flood insurance webpage or the FEMA / NFIP website floodsmart.gov.
- Create a Home Inventory - Before any disaster strikes, consumers should recognize the value in creating a home inventory. A home inventory can be invaluable when deciding how much insurance coverage fits your life situation and makes sure you are adequately protected should you need to file a claim.
Also, be sure to do your homework about people who may contact you to help with your damaged property.
- Verify public adjusters - Public adjusters may contact you if you have suffered damage to your home. You are not required to hire a public adjuster, but if you do, make sure he or she is licensed and reputable – check references. If possible, hire a Colorado-based adjuster. The DOI licenses public adjusters and consumers can verify someone’s license at our “Verify License / Company” page - click on “Verify a license of an Agent (Producer) / Agency,” then in the search function, choose “public adjuster” as the qualification type. Public adjusters work on behalf of a consumer and often charge a percentage of the claim amount. The fee is agreed upon in the contract between the public adjuster and the consumer. This cost is not included in the claim amount paid by the insurer.
- Protect Yourself from Roofing Fraud - In the wake of a hail or wind storm, roofing contractors and other construction contractors start door-to-door sales or phone solicitations. While most contractors are honest and reputable, some make false promises, insist on full payment before the work is complete, and may even create damage where none occurred. The DOI participates in the #NoRoofScams campaign with a number of other organizations - find more information at the Better Business Bureau’s site You've Been Hit with Hail, What's Next?
- Assignment of Benefits - When hiring a contractor, be sure to read through the contract carefully. Some contractors include an assignment of benefits which may hold you responsible for any repairs made that are not covered by the insurance company.
If you have additional questions about insurance, contact the Colorado Division of Insurance - 303-894-7490 / 800-930-3745 (outside the Denver metro area) / DORA_Insurance@state.co.us, or visit the Division of Insurance website.
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745.
DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675.