COLUMBUS – Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor, in conjunction with Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 25-31, is asking people to prepare ahead of the volatile spring weather season in Ohio, capable of producing thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes.
“Now is a good time for Ohioans to review their insurance policies with their agent to ensure they have appropriate protection against financial loss in the unfortunate event they would have to file a claim,” Taylor said. “I also encourage anyone with questions about their insurance coverage to call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 for free assistance.”
Taylor stressed to start an insurance review now, particularly when considering the need for flood insurance, which is not included in a typical homeowner’s insurance policy. Flood insurance is made available by a federal program and is purchased through an insurance agent. There is a 30-day waiting period before coverage provided by flood insurance becomes effective. In addition, Taylor said to ask your insurance agent about whether coverage for damage caused by a back-up of sewers or drains is available and appropriate to add to your homeowners insurance 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 the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at 1-888-379-9531 or visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about flood insurance.
- A recent study by the National Association of Insurance Commissions (NAIC) revealed 59 percent of Americans do not have a home inventory of their possessions. Visit www.insureuonline.org/home_inventory_page for a home inventory checklist and to download it on your smart phone. Keep your detailed written inventory, supplemented with photographs or a videotape, off-premises in a safety deposit box, or another secure location.
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 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.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. Those who have been victimized by contractor fraud should contact the Department’s fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1527. Visit the severe weather toolkit at www.insurance.ohio.gov for more information or follow the Department on twitter @OHInsurance and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance. Important information produced by the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness is available at www.weathersafety.ohio.gov.