COLUMBUS – You can never be too prepared for severe weather. During Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week March 1-7, Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is providing information to help Ohioans keep themselves, loved ones and property safe in advance of Ohio’s volatile spring weather season and tips outlining steps to take if a weather event were to occur.
“For the last several years Ohioans have experienced significant weather situations involving flooding, thunderstorms, damaging winds and tornadoes,” Taylor said. “I strongly encourage folks to set aside time to review their insurance protection – including need for flood insurance – with their agent to ensure they are adequately protected if financial loss is experienced.”
Flood insurance is not included in a typical homeowner’s and renter’s policy. It is instead made available by a federal program. There is a 30-day waiting period before coverage becomes effective. You should also inquire with your agent if coverage for damage caused by a sewer or drain back-up is available and appropriate to add to your policy.
Advance Insurance Planning Tips:
- Be sure you have adequate insurance coverage and deductibles that are reasonable for your needs.
- Damage caused by rain, hail, lightning and tornadoes are generally covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy and an auto insurance policy’s “comprehensive” or “other than collision” coverage.
- Call your agent or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at 888-379-9531 and visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about flood insurance.
- Download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) home inventory app from the Apple App Store or GooglePlay. A paper version is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. Include as many details as you need and take photos of your possessions.
Post Storm Recovery and Insurance Tips:
- Call your insurance agent or company as soon as you can. Be sure your agent knows how to contact you, especially if you have to move out of your home.
- Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage if permitted by public safety authorities and if you will not endanger yourself.
- Closely inspect your property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.
- If required to seek temporary housing, check your homeowner’s insurance policy for “loss of use” coverage.
- Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
How to Avoid Contractor Fraud:
- Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance company, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.
- Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
- Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.
- If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch them conduct the inspection.
- Obtain the terms and conditions of the project in writing.
- Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.
- Pay the contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash, and do not pay in full until all work has been finished.
Ohioans can visit the Department’s Severe Weather Awareness Toolkit at www.insurance.ohio.gov and call 800-686-1526 with insurance questions. Those who have been victimized by contractor fraud should contact the Department’s fraud hotline at 800-686-1527. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit www.weathersafety.ohio.gov for important weather safety information produced by the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness.