Spring Windstorm Creates Whirl of Insurance Concerns

By Darrin Sanger
NW Insurance Council
May 5, 2010

Monday's windstorm that ripped through Washington, Oregon and Idaho left a path of devastation for many across the region.

As many homeowners, business owners and renters begin the cleanup and repair process, some are left wondering what's covered and what's not under their insurance policies.

Standard Homeowners and Business insurance policies cover damage caused by wind or wind-driven objects up to the limits of the policy and less a deductible. Renters Insurance policies only cover damage to personal possessions up to the limits of the policy. A deductible normally applies.

Vehicles damaged by fallen trees or wind-damaged objects are covered if the owner has optional Comprehensive Coverage in the Auto Insurance policy, less a deductible. Covered perils are listed in the policy. Be sure to review the exclusions.

If the windstorm caused damage to your home, business or property, call your insurance agent or company and file an insurance claim immediately. Filing a claim quickly allows your insurance adjuster to assess the damage sooner.

After you have filed a claim, here are some simple steps you can take to help you get through the claims process as quickly as possible:
  1. Document the damage and take pictures of personal property that has been damaged.
  2. If safe to do so, make temporary repairs to prevent further loss from rain or wind. Keep receipts for reimbursement.
  3. Use only licensed, reputable building contractors. Be sure they have the proper building permits.
  4. Avoid contractors who ask for a large deposit up front or bids that are remarkably low. This may indicate a willingness to cut corners or to leave work unfinished.
  5. Don't pay a lot for repairs unless authorized by your insurance adjuster. You could get stuck with the bill if the repairs are deemed excessive.
  6. Don't discard anything that is damaged until it is examined by your adjuster. You could miss out on important coverage for an item.
  7. If your home was damaged by a tree that fell from a neighbor's property, your insurance will cover the damage. In order for your neighbor's insurance to cover the damage, you'll need to demonstrate that your neighbor was negligent or that the tree was at risk to falling before the loss (ex: dead, diseased).
You can get more information on protecting your home from wind and other natural disasters by visiting http://www.getreadynw.org/ or calling NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.


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