The Ohio Department of Insurance has some advice for homeowners who sustain weather-related damage.
“After several snowstorms and little to no thawing because of the bitter cold, this week’s warmer temperatures bring an increased risk for flooding,” said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also serves as the director of the state’s Insurance Department.
While flood insurance usually is not included in typical homeowner’s, renter’s and business insurance policies, damage caused by rain, hail, lightning and tornadoes generally is covered.
Vehicles are covered by auto insurance policy’s “comprehensive” or “other than collision” coverage.
Flood insurance is made available by the federal National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov and is purchased through an insurance agent. There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to start.
Taylor suggested that people closely inspect property and cars for damage and call their insurance agent as soon as possible.
Note and photograph the damage and ensure everything is considered in the claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
Taylor offers these tips to avoid becoming a victim of contractor fraud:
• Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.
• Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
• Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.
• If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch him conduct the inspection.
• Obtain, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.
• Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.
• Pay the contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash, and do not pay in full until all work has been finished.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the department’s consumer hotline at (800) 686-1526 or visit www.insurance.ohio.gov. Those who have been victimized by contractor fraud can contact the department’s fraud hotline at (800) 686-1527. You can follow the department on twitter @OHInsurance and on Facebook.