Colorado Division of Insurance offers tips on filing claims.
DENVER - Wednesday was a crazy day of wind along the Front Range in Colorado with unbelievable wind gusts leading to a considerable amount of damage to homes, cars, businesses and other property. And that damage will mean dealing with your insurance company.
Most homeowners and business property insurance policies cover wind-related damages, although people are still responsible for their deductible amounts. If your car was hit with a falling tree, tree limb or blowing debris, your auto insurance will only cover the damage if you have comprehensive coverage.
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), offers the following tips for working through the claims process with your insurance in the wake of all that wind.
- Start the claim process… now - Whether it was your home or your car that was damaged, you’ll want to contact your insurance company or agent right away to begin the claim process. However, realize that many folks will have claims due to wind damage, and the companies and their representatives may be slammed in the next few days. So be prepared that things may move a little more slowly than usual. If you can’t remember or can’t find the contact information for your company or agent, contact us at the DOI.
- Document and mitigate the damage - Document any damage by taking photos of what’s broken, damaged or lost. If the damage could lead to additional problems (like broken windows or holes in a roof), and you can safely perform some basic repairs, try to mitigate further damage - board up the windows, put tarps on roofs, etc.
- Be sure the insurance company is giving you documentation - After filing your claim, your insurance company should send a claims adjuster to assess the damage. Once the adjuster has completed their assessment, they will provide documentation of the loss to your insurance company to determine your claims settlement. Be sure to ask the claims adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer, which can be provided to the contractor or repair facility. If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for the specific language in the policy that relates to your claim. If your claim is denied, the insurer is required to provide a written explanation for the denial.
- Don't rush into a settlement - If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement. But, keep in mind that during the repair process your contractor or repair facility may identify additional damage. They should submit a supplement to the insurer for approval and payment of the additional damage discovered. If you have any questions regarding the amount of your settlement, seek professional advice.
- Ask questions - Throughout the process, you are entitled to know what’s happening. If your agent, insurance company or adjuster don’t provide you with information, or tell you something that you don’t understand, ask questions.
- Contact the Division of Insurance – While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, the DOI can assist consumers with questions about insurance and the claims process - our Consumer Services Team is a dedicated unit for helping Coloradans work with and understand their insurance. And if you believe you are not being treated fairly or have other concerns about your insurance company or agent, they also take and investigate complaints. Contact the Consumer Service Team at 303-894-7490 / 800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area) / DORA_Insurance@state.co.us or visit our website, doi.colorado.gov (click on “File a Complaint”).
You’ll also want to 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 they are licensed and reputable – check references. If possible, hire a Colorado-based adjuster. The DOI licenses public adjusters and consumers can contact the Division to verify a license. 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 assumed by the property owner and not included in the claim amount paid by the insurer.
- Protect Yourself from Roofing Fraud - In the wake of roof-damaging weather like strong winds and hail, 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. Get estimates from more than one contractor, and look for well-established, licensed, insured and bonded roofing professionals with a federal tax identification number and a permanent address. Read the contract before signing it. Is there an assignment of claim clause? Verify your insurer will accept such a clause and that you will not be responsible for repair costs not paid by your insurance. You should also ask for a contractor’s license number and confirm with your city or county building department that the license number was issued by them and is current.
About the Division of Insurance:
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 doi.colorado.gov 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 800-886-7675.