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Severe Weather Expected: What to Do if Your Property or Auto Is Damaged

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Severe Weather Expected: What to Do if Your Property or Auto Is Damaged

Severe weather, including the risk of strong thunderstorms, is expected in the Washington, DC, area starting late tonight through Thursday.

When a storm strikes, it is important to know what to do if your home is damaged or if you are involved in an automobile accident. The Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking encourages people to take all precautions and to also locate your insurance information in case you need to file a claim. The following are some guidelines if your home or car is damaged. You can also view more tips for filing claims and contact information for DC insurers at disb.dc.gov/claims.

What to Do If Damage Occurs to Your Home:

  • Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible.
  • Take photographs or video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (i.e., cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.

What Damage to Your Home Is Covered?

Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a structure due to the weight of ice or snow are all covered under most standard homeowners policies. Check your policy and call your insurance agent or company if you need clarification or have specific questions.

What Damage to Your Home Is Not Covered?

The following events are typically not covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy: interior water damage from a storm, when there is no damage to the roof or walls of your home; damage as the result of a flood; removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not land on and damage your home); and water damage from backed-up drains or sewers. Some insurers offer endorsements (i.e., additional protection that may be purchased) for certain coverage not covered under the standard homeowner policy. Check with your agent or company to determine your needs.

What to Do If You Are in an Automobile Accident:

  • Call the police.
  • Obtain the following information: the names, addresses, telephone numbers and driver’s license numbers of all persons involved in the accident and any witnesses.
  • Record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of vehicles involved, apparent damages and injuries, and your version of what happened.
  • Call your insurance agent or company to report the incident as soon as possible.
  • Take notes each time you talk with your insurance company, agent, lawyers, police or others involved in the situation. Write down the dates, times, names and subjects you talked about, as well as any decisions or promises made.
  • Ask your insurance company if you have coverage for a rental vehicle if your car is not drivable. Save all receipts and bills, including those from renting a car or having your car towed or stowed.

Also, now is the time to make a home inventory for insurance purposes if you haven't already. You can download the free NAIC myHOME Scr.APP.book app for iPhone® or Android smart phones to get you started. The app guides you through capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and storing them electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing. If you would rather do it by hand, you can download a home inventory spreadsheet here.

Contact DISB at (202) 727-8000 or disb.dc.gov if you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement, or if you need further information.