Insurance Experts Explain How to Deal with Storm Damage

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BONELLI: "If you have sustained damage as a result of wind or hail, most importantly be safe. There’s a possibility of power outages and we’ve been through these before. If there is damage to your home, if there’s a way to make a call to your insurance company, do that as soon as possible. Wind and hail are covered by your insurance so take that into account. If a tree falls, it’s very important to understand how it’s covered. If it falls in your yard without touching your house, garage or car, in all likelihood, you are the person responsible for its removing. If it’s touched your house or your car, the insurance company will cover the cost of removing that limb or tree and cover the damage caused by that."

INGLES: "So if you see a tree has fallen in your yard, should you go ahead and try to remove it before the insurance company takes a look at it or should you let the insurance company come out and make a determination first."

BONELLI: "That’s a good question. I would recommend this: if it is a limb in your yard and you know it’s not going to be covered by your insurance, you can go ahead and start its removal as soon as you possible can in a safe manner. If there are wires down or any type of possibility of injury, by no means should you try to do this yourself. You may have to hire a company to do this for you. The other thing is to take pictures. We always recommend you take pictures of any damage ahead of time and your insurance company will help you through that process step by step but taking pictures is a very important part of that….especially if you see some damages to your property, meaning your home, your garage or your car."

INGLES: "We’ve had a lot of these windstorms recently. It seems like they are becoming more common. Do you think we are going to see big increases in our homeowners insurance because of the damage that keeps getting caused by these storms?"

BONELLI: "Well right now, the institute is in the process of assessing losses from the last series of storms in late June and early July. We’ll have those numbers in early August. How these will affect future rates, it’s truly hard to say at this very minute but what we can tell you is this: there has been a significant increase in storm losses in the Midwest, in Ohio, in recent years. And insurance companies look at losses regionally meaning we don’t pay for earthquakes but we do pay for the types of losses that typically occur in your area. We can’t recoup losses from previous storms but we can prepare for future ones. In the last 5 years, we’ve had millions and millions of dollars in damage that historically hasn’t happened. And so as a result of that, consumers will likely see increases in insurance, if they haven’t in the last few years, to some minor degree but to say what that would be….it’s really hard to judge at this point."

Mary Bonelli with the Ohio Insurance Institute says there is more information on how to deal with damage from these types of storms on her organization’s website. She was speaking with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles.

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