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Voice of the consumer: Insurance claims during a pandemic -- and where’s Katie?

Jenna Middaugh
Jenna Middaugh(KKTV)
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 6:56 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - It is a sign of the season: more hail. Last week’s storm brought back memories of the monster storm that hit the Colorado Springs area on Aug. 6, 2018.

If you lived here during that time, you probably remember it. The hail broke windows on homes, cars and even severely damaged the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo — forcing it to shut down for several days.

Thankfully, our most recent storm was not as bad, but it still left behind quite a bit of damage. Viewers sent us pictures and videos showing broken windows and dented cars.

Many people will now have to file insurance claims. But one big difference between the 2018 storm and this one: we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

I spoke with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association to learn how the coronavirus outbreak will affect people filing insurance claims. The good news is the process should not really be that different.

Carole Walker, the executive director, told me people still need to contact their insurance companies and file claims as soon as possible.

If you’re nervous about doing an in-person claims inspection, don’t be. Walker said insurance companies are trying to do virtual meetings when they can. If you need to meet in-person with an inspector, Walker said they are on top of it.

“Insurance companies have safety precaution protocols in place that will help ensure customer claims service while maintaining proper health and social distancing guidelines,” Walker said.

She also said the claims process could be faster than normal if it’s done virtually, but there may be some slowdowns when getting the actual repairs, since so many people are in the same boat.

When it comes to finding a contractor to fix your damage, you have to be careful. Walker said there could be more people trying to capitalize on the misfortune of others.

“Past trends during economic downturns have shown us that fraud and property crimes rise when financial hardship is highest,” Walker said. “We see it after every storm here in Colorado, where unscrupulous contractors go door to door to try to get victims to let them repair their roofs or other hail damage.

“With the arrival of COVID-19, we could see new twists on traditional scams that prey on property owners using high-pressure sales tactics from fraudulent contractors.”

Earlier this summer, I spoke to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department about what to watch for so you don’t fall for a scam.

The most important thing is to find a reputable contractor. Make sure to research the company, check reviews online and ask friends and family for recommendations.

Then check the department’s website at www.pprbd.org. That website will show which contractors are licensed and in good standing with the county. Remember, if a contractor asks you to pull a permit yourself, that’s a red flag.

Also, before the work begins, make sure you have a contract that details what will be done and how much it will cost. Make sure to read it over carefully before signing the agreement. For more information, you can call the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department at 719-327-2880.

Many of you might be wondering where Katie Pelton is this week. I recently joined her on our 11 Call for Action team, so you’ll be hearing from me more as Katie and I split responsibilities. Our Call for Action hotline is still closed because of the pandemic, but you can always report scams and fraud to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at 800-222-4444.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.

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