WASHINGTON, D.C. — Severe storms and deadly tornadoes ripped across the south this weekend, destroying homes and businesses in multiple states. Residents and business owners who experienced damage to their property are urged to contact their insurer as soon as possible to begin the claims process.
“Insurers have implemented contingency plans due to COVID-19 and stand ready to assist policyholders by processing and paying claims as quickly as possible, even when working remotely,” said Jessica Hanna, senior vice president of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. “If your home or business was damaged, be sure to photograph the damage and contact your insurer as soon as possible to get you on the road to recovery.”
Most severe weather events, like tornadoes, are covered under a homeowners, renters, auto, or commercial insurance policy. Once individuals have filed a claim, there are several things they can do to help expedite the recovery process such as photographing the damage and making an inventory of what was lost or damaged.
Unscrupulous contractors often go door-to-door after a disaster preying on people who are in desperate need of repairs, and residents are urged to exercise extra caution when signing contracts.
“Before signing any contracts for repair work, talk to your insurer or local better business bureau for references,” continued Hanna.
Insurers have emergency continuity plans and remote inspection solutions in place due to COVID-19. They are well prepared to handle claims and continue providing services effectively if a tornado or other catastrophe strikes. Insurers use innovative technology, like the use of drones, that enables them to view damaged property remotely and the ability to view before and after aerial images of impacted properties and areas.
“The use of advanced remote-viewing technology allows insurers to evaluate and pay claims faster,” added Hanna. “As the country continues practicing social distancing, these technologies will be especially critical during the recovery process.”
APCIA’s Tornado Recovery Tips
Secure property from further damage or theft.
Contact your insurer as soon as possible to report damage.
Make an inventory of what was lost or damaged and photograph the damage to provide to your insurance adjuster. Compile receipts, descriptions and photos of your home’s contents.
Be aware of unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster. Contact your insurer, agent, or local business bureau for references on potential contractors and ask for certificates of liability and workers compensation before signing contracts.
If you are a business owner, keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the tornado or storm and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business before and after the loss.
Many standard homeowners’ and renters’ policies provide reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to a covered loss. This provision helps with paying for increases to necessary living expenses such as temporary housing and restaurant meals. In addition, extra expenses such as overnight parking and laundry services may also be covered. Additional living expense coverage does not pay for all living expenses so contact your insurance company or agent to get a list of what your policy will cover.