COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Insurance offers the following information and tips to help Ohioans avoid scams and work toward recovery following this week’s severe weather.
“It will take time for our communities to fully recover, and we want people to have all the resources and information available to help with the recovery process,” Governor Mike DeWine said.
How to recoup your losses after a storm
Damage caused by rain, hail, lightning, wind, or tornado is generally covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, a standard renters insurance policy, or an auto insurance policy’s “comprehensive” or “other than collision” coverage. Flood insurance is not included in a typical homeowners or renters insurance policy. It’s made available by the federal National Flood Insurance Program and purchased through an insurance agent. There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to start.
“People who have experienced damage should contact their insurance agent or company right away to initiate the claim-filing process,” Director Froment said. “Insurance experts at the Ohio Department of Insurance are also available to answer any questions related to your policy and filing a claim.”
If you suffered storm damage:
- Call your insurance agent or company right away.
- Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage if permitted by public safety authorities.
- Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.
- If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for “loss of use” coverage.
- Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
During the recovery process:
- Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau, or a specialized consumer organization.
- Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
Tips to avoid scams and insurance fraud:
- Beware of contractors coming to your home unsolicited, offering to do work, and seeking your insurance information to submit claims on your behalf.
- Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.
- If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, watch the contractor conduct the inspection. Beware that some fraudulent contractors will intentionally damage property in order to secure repair work.
- Obtain, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.
- Avoid signing any documentation (including a contract) until you fully review it. Be aware that in some cases, scammers will have consumers sign a document without explaining it is a contract.
- Pay the contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash, and do not pay in full until all work has been finished.
Consumers with questions about their policies, filing a claim, or trying to better understand coverage can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 800-686-1526 or visit www.insurance.ohio.gov, which includes a severe weather recovery toolkit. To report scams or potentially fraudulent activity, consumers should call the department’s fraud and enforcement hotline at 800-686-1527.
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