Protecting yourself after a storm; Tips for insurance claims

Photo: Cin Cin

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. In what is the worst overnight El Paso County hail storm in more than 20 years, many residents were left with extensive damage to their property.

Several in the county will need to file insurance claims. 11 News has put together tips to help.

According to LexisNexis Risk Solutions, hail is the top cause for home insurance claims and losses outside of catastrophic weather events. In the U.S., 51 percent of all major hail losses in 2017 came from just two states: Texas and Colorado.

The first step is to understand your policy and coverage, including replacement costs.

Then, assess the damage by inspecting your car or home for structural damage. Take photos to document everything.

State Farm encourages their policyholders to make temporary repairs after documenting everything to prevent further damage. That includes boarding up holes with plywood or covering leaks with plastic sheeting. They also recommend homeowners save receipts related to home repairs, car towing, temporary housing, meals or other living expenses. The company says they may be eligible for reimbursement after any required deductibles are met.

Next, contact your insurance to start the claims process and complete the steps from there.

State Farm provided the following list of advice:

Important First Steps
• Take reasonable steps to prevent potential safety risks and/or further damage.
• Keep accurate records of what you spend repairing things.
• Separate items that may be cleaned and/or repaired.
• Check with your claim representative before you discard any items you plan to claim as damaged.
• Review your policy for specific coverage information.

If Anyone is Injured
• Report it immediately to your agent.
• Obtain names and addresses of any witnesses.
• Don't make voluntary payments, obligations or expenses outside of emergency first aid.

Contractor Tips
• While there are many good contractors, please be wary of those who might try to capitalize on the storm.
• Shop around. Seek recommendations and check credentials.
• Always have a written, detailed estimate.
• Never pay for work up front.
• Never sign a contract with blank spaces, which could be altered later.