MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Strong wind and tornados can create a major mess for property owners. Broken glass, roof damage and electrical issues are some of the most common problems insurance professionals get called about.
“We realize people pay for insurance. It’s an intangible product. It’s not something like a flat screen that they can see,” said Dusty Smith, the Consumer Services Manager with the Alabama Department of Insurance. “So, they’re buying a promise from their insurance carrier.”
It is a promise storm victims are banking on, which is why the department has five tips for those needing to file a claim.
First, before the storm strikes people should stay alert to the changing weather to protect themselves.
For the second tip, once it’s safe to step outside, begin documenting the damage.
“Start taking photos of the potential damage you might have on your home, whether it’s dripping water, if you can see roof damage, broken glass, any fire damage from the electrical issues that might have been caused during the storm,” Smith explained.
Third, pick up the phone and speak with your agent or insurance company to begin filing a claim. Smith says it takes about ten minutes to get the facts straight, Smith said.
Soon after, an appointment will be made for an adjuster to come out and inspect your property.
“An adjuster is trained to find all the damage and somebody, you know, there could be structural damage to a house if the wind was high enough and so the ‘do-it-yourselfer’ might not be getting all the benefits of that insurance policy they’re paying for by trying to do it their selves,” Smith said.
Fourth, you are urged to be proactive in reducing the chances of any further complications.
“So, if there’s a broken window, maybe cover that up so there won’t be more water damage,” Smith added.
And for the fifth tip, folks are told to save their receipts. It ensures you have a paper trail of what your insurance provider can cover.
With the potential for power outages, folks should also have their policy numbers and agent’s phone number handy.
The insurance expert stresses you cannot put a price tag on your life.
“Unfortunately, we can fix houses, we can fix cars, but it’s hard to fix people. So, we want to make sure that people are safe first,” Smith said.
With the prices of homes on the rise. Smith also encourages people to call their agent and have another assessment of their home to make sure they are not under-insured.
Those with concerns regarding the handling of their claim can call the Consumer Services division of the Alabama Department of Insurance at 1-800-433-3966 or visit the department’s website.
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