COLUMBUS – Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is offering information and tips for Ohioans impacted by the heavy rain that caused flooding across the state.
“Knowing what steps to take following a severe weather event can be difficult and stressful,” Taylor said. “It’s important that Ohioans stay safe while assessing damage and contact their insurance agent right away. I also encourage them to contact the Ohio Department of Insurance for any guidance.”
A severe weather preparation and recovery toolkit, which includes flood insurance information, is available on the Department’s website at www.insurance.ohio.gov. Ohioans can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 800-686-1526 with insurance-related questions.
Damage caused by rain, hail, lightning and tornadoes are generally covered by standard homeowner’s, renter’s and business insurance policies, and an auto insurance policy’s “comprehensive” or “other than collision” coverage. Flood insurance is not included in typical homeowner’s, renter’s and business insurance policies.
Flood insurance is made available by the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at www.floodsmart.gov and is purchased through an insurance agent. People should regularly review their need for flood insurance because there is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to start.
If you suffered storm damage, Taylor said you should:
- 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 policy for “loss of use” coverage.
- Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
Taylor offers these tips to avoid becoming a victim of contractor fraud:
- 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.
- 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.
Those who have been victimized by contractor fraud should contact the Department’s fraud hotline at 800-686-1527. You can follow the Department on Facebook and Twitter.