Making the Claims Process Easier: What Consumers Should Know When Faced With A Loss | News | The Press and Standard

by | April 17, 2018 7:52 am

 

While weather related damage is beyond our control, we can take steps to ensure that the recovery process goes smoothly.  “Damages resulting from the line of storms and tornadoes that moved through our state yesterday have included downed trees, electrical outages and damaged homes and vehicles.  Please review the following information as you work to clean up and recover from the storm,” said Ray Farmer, Director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage:

Property insurance generally covers loss or damage to your home, its contents (like your furniture, TV, clothes and jewelry) and detached buildings on your property (like a garage or tool shed).  The extent of coverage will depend on the language of your policy.  There generally is a deductible that applies to each claim.  A deductible is how much you agree to pay out of pocket for losses before your insurance company begins to pay.  The deductible amount appears on the declarations page of your policy.  The amount of coverage is based on the type of policy you purchase – actual cash value or replacement cost.

If you have sustained weather related damage to your home and you have replacement cost coverage, your policy will generally cover the cost up to the value stated in the policy to return your home to the condition it was prior to the storm.  Actual cash value means payment is limited to the depreciated value of each item at the time it is damaged or destroyed.  Depreciation is the decrease in value of your home or personal contents due to age or wear and tear since the time the home was built or the personal contents item was purchased.

Downed Trees:

Generally, some homeowners insurance policies will provide up to $500 coverage for tree removal.  This limit applies to ALL of the downed trees per loss and is not paid on a per tree basis.

If a tree falls on your home or other structure covered under the terms of your homeowners policy, your insurance policy should cover the cost of removing the tree from the damaged structure.

Spoiled Food Due to an Electrical Outage:

If you lose electricity and the food in your refrigerator spoils, you may or may not be covered for the value of the spoiled food.  Please review your policy as the language will outline the exclusions and terms.  As with downed trees, most policies that provide this coverage limit the reimbursement to a specified dollar amount.

Automobile Insurance Coverage:

If your car sustained damage as a result of the storm and your automobile insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, then your car may be covered unless the terms of your insurance policy provide otherwise.  However, if you did not purchase comprehensive coverage and only purchased for example, liability coverage, the damage will not be covered by your policy.  As with homeowners insurance, there is generally a deductible that applies to auto claims under the comprehensive coverage portion of your policy.

Next Steps Once You Have a Loss:

  • Document your entire loss with photographs, videos, etc.
  • Mitigate the damages.  You will need to take the necessary steps to prevent further damage and loss.  Make temporary repairs using plywood, tarps etc. to protect the structure.
  • Contact your insurance agent or company and report all claims as soon as possible.
  • Keep a log of your personal property loss and gather all receipts for those items that have been damaged or destroyed.  Photographs and videos of the materials will also help in filing the claim.
  • Now is a good time to create an inventory of your furnishings and valuables in preparation for future storms.  Keep a copy of the list and photo records in a safe deposit box or somewhere else safe away from your home.  To download a free app to help you with your inventory, go to the iTunes® or Android® Market app stores and search “NAIC.”  For those without a smart phone, please visit the South Carolina Department of Insurance website, www.doi.sc.gov to find a link to a printable form.

The South Carolina Department of Insurance Office of Consumer Services’ specially trained staff is available to assist consumers with their insurance-related questions and concerns.  You may contact the Office of Consumer Services by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-768-3467 Mon. – Thurs. 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. or Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  You may also contact an analyst online at consumers@doi.sc.gov.  Consumers that are experiencing a problem with a storm-related claim or that have another specific problem with an insurance company, broker, agent, or adjuster can file a complaint with our Office of Consumer Services at www.doi.sc.gov/complaint.

For additional insurance information, please visit our website, www.doi.sc.gov.

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