COLUMBUS – Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor is offering information and tips for Ohioans impacted by the severe conditions and flooding caused by recent heavy rain and compounded by melting snow.
“Ohioans dealing with the aftermath following recent severe weather should contact their insurance agent immediately,” Taylor said. “Because the recovery process can seem overwhelming, those with questions about insurance or their claims can contact the Department of Insurance consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 for assistance.”
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. Flood insurance is not included in a typical homeowner’s and renter’s policy. It’s 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 property damage, 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.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 and visit www.insurance.ohio.gov for information. Those who have been victimized by contractor fraud should contact the Department’s fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1527. You can follow the Department on twitter @OHInsurance and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance.