As Connecticut residents begin to clean up and assess home and property damage from Hurricane Sandy, they may be surprised to learn all damages may not be covered under a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy. Unless consumers purchased additional coverage, many are left paying out-of-pocket for water damage, clearing tree limbs that did not damage their property, restocking refrigerators, and making up the difference on roof repairs.
“Homeowners often don’t realize what insurance will cover or will not cover until they submit a claim to their agent,” said Tom Beidleman, Vice President of Insurance for AAA Allied Group. “It’s important for residents cleaning up from the storm to carefully review insurance policies and speak to insurance agents to determine if coverage is available.”
What’s covered, and what’s not:
- Damage caused by flooding is not covered under a standard homeowners policy. A separate flood insurance policy is required.
- Sewer and drain back-up may not be covered under a standard homeowners policy. Consumers can purchase water and sewer back-up endorsements to provide additional coverage for water or sewage back-up into homes from sewer lines.
- Food spoilage caused by a power outage is not covered under all homeowners insurance policies. Review individual policies carefully to determine if coverage exists.
- Water damage leaking into homes from roofs damaged during rain may be covered. Be sure to review policies and speak to insurance agents before filing claims to help expedite the process.
- Policies may limit the amount of coverage provided per tree. Properties closer to the shore may contain higher wind deductibles.
When assessing homes for damage, consumers are reminded to consider the following:
- Protect property from further damage with immediate and temporary measures. Save receipts from minor repairs to submit for reimbursement.
- Phone an insurance agent or company immediately. Be prepared with a list of questions ahead of time: Am I covered? Does my claim exceed my deductible? How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?
- If a home is damaged to the extent residents cannot live there, find out if coverage is available for accommodations while repairs are completed. Keep hotel receipts for reimbursement.
- Schedule a time for an adjuster to inspect the damage to property.
- Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles. Avoid throwing out damaged items until the adjuster has visited. Consider taking a photos or a video recording of damage.
- Get claim forms. Insurance companies will send required claim forms by a specified time period. Be sure to completely fill out the form and return promptly to avoid delays.
AAA encourages all consumers to review insurance policies at least twice a year and after life-changing events, such as getting married and having children. All insurance companies are different and policies will vary. AAA Insurance has a toll free number available for members who may need assistance. The number is 1-855-732-0145.