COLUMBUS – Spring is around the corner and that means it’s time to start preparing for unpredictable weather capable of producing damaging winds, thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes, said Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor. To help nudge people into action, the State of Ohio has declared March 3-9 Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week.
“The last few years have proven how destructive and costly spring weather can be,” Taylor said. “I encourage all Ohioans to review their insurance policies and make sure they are prepared as severe weather season approaches.”
Taylor said people may want to start with reviewing their need for flood insurance. There is a 30-day waiting period before coverage becomes effective. Flood insurance is not included in a typical homeowner’s and renter’s policy, instead it’s made available by a federal program and is purchased through an insurance agent. This is also an opportune time to 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 tornado are generally covered by a standard homeowners 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 1-888-379-9531 and visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about flood insurance.
- Download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) home inventory app from iTunes 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, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.
- 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.