Iowa Insurance Commissioner Offers Tips for Storm Victims
Des Moines, October 7, 2013— Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart today issued a series of tips to help property owners filing claims as a result of the devastating storm damage from several windstorms and tornadoes in Northwest Iowa over the weekend. Claims from the losses associated with these storms will include those for damaged vehicles, homes and their contents, or farms and businesses covered by insurance.
“Iowans who were affected by these disasters need to know there is help available to them from the Iowa Insurance Division as they get their claims filed and begin to work with their insurance companies.” Gerhart said. “They can call at 1-877-955-1212 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and messages left outside of those hours will also be returned the next business day. Another way to contact us is through the complaint form on our website at www.iid.state.ia.us.”
Here are some basic tips for handling the filing of the claim and for working with your damaged property:
· Contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible. If possible, have your policy numbers available when you call. Ask what documents, forms, and data you'll need to file a claim. Advise them if you no longer have documents and learn what alternative documents can be provided.
· People who have suffered property losses may find themselves being contacted by someone who identifies themselves as a public adjuster. Iowans who choose to work with public adjusters should make sure to ask to see their license before doing business with them. Public adjusters work for the policyholder, and charge a fee from the policyholder. Company adjusters do not charge fees.
· Keep track of all the expenses associated with the loss and keep copies of all of your paperwork
· Take photographs or video of the damage.
· If your property is partially damaged, try to protect it against further losses by making temporary repairs. Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property. Don’t have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Keep receipts associated with such repairs, as these may be reimbursable under your insurance.
· If your home is damaged to the extent that you can’t live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses. Call the company to advise them of your temporary location. Also leave information about how you can be contacted at your property in case an adjuster comes to the property for a damage assessment.
· If you have damaged appliances, furniture, and other contents for which you will be filing claims, don’t throw that damaged property away unless instructed to do so by your insurance adjuster, and don’t start permanent repairs without prior approval from your insurer.
· Be sure to ask contractors for references and check them before you sign a contract for repairs, removal or replacement. Check with the Better Business Bureau, or the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office at 888-777-4590 to make sure the company has a good track record or to report suspected price gouging. The Iowa Workforce Development’s Division of Labor has an online registry of contractors you can check to see if a contractor is registered. www.iowaworkforce.org/labor/contractor.htm.
· Don’t be pressured into signing the first contract that is presented to you. Be wary of contractors who demand upfront payment before work is initiated or payment in full before work is completed. If the contractor needs payment to buy supplies, go with the contractor and pay the supplier directly.
· You have the right to choose which contractor will repair your home. Your insurer may provide you with a list of pre-approved contractors, but as the policyholder, you have the final say in contractor selection.
If you do not receive a payment from your insurer consistent with the terms of your policy in a timely fashion, you can call the Insurance Division for advice and assistance.
About the Iowa Insurance Division
The Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or securities-related questions or complaints may contact the IID toll free at 877-955-1212 or visit the division on the web at www.iid.state.ia.us.