HARRISBURG – At the mid-point of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, state Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario reminded consumers to make sure their insurance policies are up to date.
“Hurricane damage usually comes in the form of property damage due to trees falling or power outages from high winds or flooding, so it important to ensure your insurance policy is up to date and covers the damage these storms can cause,” Ario said, recalling the serious impact that the remnants of Hurricane Ike had in western Pennsylvania one year ago.
“Insurance policy language is very specific about what damage is covered; a key example being that a standard homeowners insurance policy does not include flood protection,” he added. “Consumers should review their insurance policies at least once a year with their insurance agent to note any gaps in coverage that could prove costly.”
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 – November 30. If a storm strikes, Commissioner Ario says it is important to stay calm and offers these tips for dealing with the aftermath:
• Before making any repairs to your house, make a list of the damage and take photos or video;
• Protect your home from further damage by making temporary repairs until your insurance company is able to advise you. Save any receipts for materials purchased for repairs. Do not throw away damaged property until the claims adjuster advises you to do so;
• Do not make any permanent repairs until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. If you make permanent repairs before the adjuster has seen the damage, your claim could be denied;
• Most damage resulting from fallen trees is covered by your homeowner’s policy. Check with your agent or company before calling a tree removal service as removal costs may also be covered. Also, you may be held responsible if one of your trees has fallen on a neighbor’s property. Again, check with your agent or company; and
• If your claim is denied, review the terms of your policy for what is or is not covered. You may also file an appeal to your insurance company’s claim manager. If questions remain, feel free to contact the Insurance Department.
The current edition of Consumer News You Can Use, the Office of Consumer Liaison’s quarterly newsletter, discusses hurricane season as well as Ready.Pa, the state’s campaign for consumers to “Be Informed, Be Prepared, and Be Involved.” To download a copy of the newsletter or read a brochure on disaster preparedness, visit here.
Consumers with questions may also call the Insurance Department’s toll-free, automated consumer hotline at (877) 881-6388, or contact any of the department’s Bureau of Consumer Services’ regional offices: Harrisburg at (717) 787-2317; Philadelphia at (215) 560-2630; or Pittsburgh at (412) 565-5020.