Home and auto insurance: Filing a claim due to a blizzard or snow storm
From the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance agency www.iii.org
As millions dig out from some of the heaviest snowfalls ever to hit the eastern United States, many may have questions about the claims filing process. In the event of storm-related damage, contact your insurance professional as soon as possible. Let them know the extent of the damage and where you can be reached if you had to relocate. Those filing a flood insurance claim should contact the same agent or broker who sold them the policy.
The claims process begins when the insurance company asks you to complete a “proof of claim” form, says the I.I.I. The claim generally needs to be filed within 60 days—this includes estimates, engineering reports and other documents to support your claim. The insurance company will then usually send an adjuster out to the residence to assess the damage.
When filing an insurance claim, the I.I.I. recommends taking the following steps:
Homeowners and Renters Insurance Claims
Flood Insurance Claims
- Prepare a list of damaged items and consider photographing or videotaping the extent of the damage, if it is safe to do so.
- Save receipts for what you spend on temporary repairs; the insurance company will provide reimbursement for these expenditures. Document everything.
- Notify the insurance company if the damage to your home is so severe you need to relocate; standard homeowners and renters insurance policies pay for additional living expenses (ALE) if your home or apartment is uninhabitable.
- Keep in mind that if you have a mortgage on your home, your homeowners insurance may name both you and your mortgage lender on the settlement check. Even though your name is on the check, your lender likely will hold some or all of the insurance proceeds in an escrow account, to be release when it is time until to pay the contractor.
Auto Insurance Claims
- Use the National Flood Insurance Program Notice of Loss form (Form 086-0-11), or pick one up at a local FEMA assistance center. After that, you must complete, sign and submit a Proof of Loss form (Form 086-0-9) within 60 days of the flood, just like a homeowners policy.
- Take photographs of any damaged or destroyed items before removing them from your home or starting any dry out or repairs. Separate damaged from undamaged property and then compile a written inventory; include on this list both damaged and destroyed property, as well as the approximate monetary value of each.
- Keep accurate records, including receipts and bills, to help the adjuster prepare a loss estimate.
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- Review your auto policy or speak with your insurance professional to determine whether the damage to your vehicle is covered. Many winter-related incidents fall under the optional comprehensive or collision portion of an auto policy. Comprehensive covers, for instance, if a tree limb falls on a vehicle, or if it is flooded. Collision pays for damage resulting from hitting another car, an object, or if the vehicle flips over.
- Contact your insurance professional to find out how to proceed and what forms or documents will be needed to support your claim. Your insurance company will require a “proof of claim” form and, in the event of an accident, possibly a copy of the police report.
- Fill out the claim forms carefully. Keep good records. Get the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak with and copies of any bills related to the damage.