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Disasters, Severe Weather and Insurance Claims

Division of Insurance property & casualty experts are available by phone to answer insurance questions: 1-800-930-3745 toll-free outside Denver; 303-894-7490 in metro Denver area.

Homeowners / Auto Insurance Companies Providing Premium Payment Grace Periods for Flood Victims pdf file  
Health Insurance Companies Offering Services to Flood Vicitms pdf file  
Public Adjusters & Contractors - What to Know Before Signing a Contract pdf file  
Insurance Companies' Toll-free Numbers pdf file   
Disaster Loans Available from the Small Business Administration for Flood Victims pdf file           

What to do when your property -- auto, home or other insured building -- is damaged by wildfires, severe weather and other disasters

  • Take photographs and video of the damage, before everything is cleaned up or repaired. 

  • If you can do so safely, make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property by covering 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, unless your insurance company directs you to do so. If going back into the area could be dangerous, don't do it. 

  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy. Plastic tarps or sheeting used to protect broken windows and damaged buildings from additional exposure to elements are usually covered by your homeowners policy.

  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, you may have coverage for additional living expenses while repairs are being made. This is true for most standard homeowners policies.

  • If you cannot stay in your home, save all receipts, including hotel stays, reasonable meals and any necessities that you must buy. Not everything may be covered, but without receipts, you may be out of luck. 

You may be contacted by a public adjuster to help you work through your insurance claims. Be sure to read this fact sheet on public adjusters before you sign or agree to any contracts!

Ideally, you have an inventory list and photos of your valuables available. (Store this list on line so you can reach it in the future.) 

If not, remember each room in your house and write down any items you recall. Ask friends and family for photographs that might show part of your house. Don't forget things like linens, artwork, rugs, lamps, etc. They might be small dollar amounts, but they all add up. You can use the Home Inventory Checklist to help you go through each room, in your memory, to recall what was lost.

Representatives from insurance companies will assess the disaster and may attend to houses with the most damage first. If your house does not have as much damage as others, be patient. It might take a while for the insurance company to get to every house that has been damaged. It doesn't mean they are taking your claim any less seriously than your neighbors’ claim.

picture of wildfire flames

 

 

picture of roof with hail on it

 

 

Which types of damage are covered?

Damage caused by wildfires, wind, wind-driven rain, damage to your home from trees or other falling objects, collapse of a structure due to weight of hail and debris are all covered under most standard homeowners policies. Refer to your policy contract for details.

Types of damage not covered: Interior water damage from a storm (when there is no damage to the roof or walls), damage as the result of a flood, removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not land on and damage your home), food spoilage due to a power outage, and water damage from backed-up drains or sewers are not covered under most standard homeowners policies. You may purchase additional coverage for some of these events.


If your car is damaged by storm or wildfire:

Call your insurance agent or insurance company with your policy number and other information as soon as possible. Ask your agent what you'll need to file a claim.
Ask your insurance company if you have coverage for a rental vehicle if your car is not drivable. Save any receipts and bills, including those from a car rental or towing, and storage of your damaged car.

If your car was damaged and you have comprehensive coverage with car rental, call your insurance company right away. They can usually schedule a rental car for you quickly, while yours is being repaired.

Wildfire, tornadoes and other severe storms can leave a trail of devastation. Rebuilding a community after one of these events is expensive and takes time.

 These tips will help get money owed to you from your insurance company quickly, so you can start rebuilding your house and your life.

Before disaster hits:

Keep an
inventory list of your belongings, and email it to yourself. If you have receipts and photos to document valuables, you will streamline the claim process when needed. (Print this free Home Inventory Checklist to help get you started.)

Have a plan to communicate and reunite should your family be apart during a disaster. Agree to call a certain person in another location, in case you are separated. Be sure family members and close neighbors know the plan and who to contact for information.

Assess your home and property and be sure you have the insurance you need . Policies may include replacement coverage for your home or market value. Be sure the coverage will make you whole after a severe event. 

 

After you have experienced a disaster:

Stay safe. Don’t enter an area that is unstable. Rely on emergency responders to help recover items if a structure is unsafe.

Document your losses. Make a list of what is missing or damaged.Take photos or video of damage before it is repaired. Ideally, you created an inventory list and saved it in a safe place away from your home. If you do not have an inventory list available, use the Home Inventory Checklist  to jog your memory by recalling your possessions, room by room.

Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. Take notes each time you speak with your insurance company, 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 that are made.

Be aware of the scope of the disaster and try to be understanding if your insurance company is dealing with many claims at once. If you feel you are not getting the response you need, or if there is a dispute about what is covered by your policy, please contact the Division of Insurance Consumer Affairs section for assistance. (Contact numbers are listed below this section..)

For more information and consumer tips on Homeowners Insurance, click here.

 

 

 

 

 cover of Home Inventory Checklist brochure

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1560 Broadway, Suite 850, Denver, CO 80202 Email
(303) 894-7499 - Phone (800) 930-3745 - Toll Free (303) 894-7455 - Fax