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It is safe to say that the Spring of 2008 has had it's fair share of storm activity. Due to the high number hail claims being processed in the Twin Cities metro, I am addressing typical claims procedures for home and auto claims caused by severe weather.

Homeowners Losses:

Q. Trees have fallen on the insured's house, garage or other property. How much coverage does the insured have for the debris removal? Also, what if the trees have not fallen on covered property, only in the yard?

A. The typical homeowner's policy provides up to $500 to remove trees that have fallen due to windstorm, either on the home or simply in the yard without damaging the home. Typically, no deductible applies to this coverage.

Q. The insured's tree falls on a neighbor's home due to a windstorm. Which policy pays for its removal? (insured's policy or neighbor's policy)

A. The neighbor's policy should cover the tree removal, or a combination of the two policies, if any part of the tree is on the insured's premises.

Q. The insured's home sustains damage to its exterior due to a windstorm. What should the insured do until the adjuster arrives?

A. The homeowner's policy has a provision for making temporary repairs. The insured should take necessary steps to protect the property from further damage. They may have tarps installed on the roof, siding or broken windows to protect the interior from water damage. A contractor may be hired to complete these repairs. These costs are covered.

Q. A storm has caused a general power outage in the area, and has affected the insured's electricity for an undetermined amount of time. Is the cost of a motel covered under the insured's homeowner's policy?

A. No. The insured's property must sustain direct physical damage causing the power outage. The property must be considered unfit for occupancy in order to recover costs for motel bills.

Q. Is there coverage for interior water damage to the home if it is the result of exterior damage caused by the windstorm?

A. Yes. All homeowner forms will cover damage to the interior of a home, if the home has first sustained damage to the exterior caused by the windstorm.

Q. Is there coverage for a flooded basement if the water enters through the sewer or sump pump system? What if the sump pump system fails due to a power outage?

A. Some homeowner policies contain an endorsement to cover damage to the interior of a home as the result of a sewer back up, or sump pump failure, even if the failure is caused by a power outage. You will want to refer to you homeowners declaration pages to see if you have this coverage.

Q . Is there coverage for water that enters the home through basement window wells or through the basement walls or floor?

A. No. Water that enters the home in this manner is considered surface water, or water below the surface of the ground, and is specifically excluded.

Q. A home sustains windstorm or hail damage to the siding, roof or both. What happens if the same color and style of roofing or siding material is not available?

A. Typically, the adjuster first looks at availability of the materials. If the same siding or roofing material is available, your insurance company will pay for repair of the damaged areas only. If the adjuster is unable to make this determination, a sample of the roofing or siding is sent to a company that researches matching issues. This company is able to determine if a reasonable match is available, along with the manufacturer's name and color description. If they determine that a reasonable match is not available, your insurance company then allows the replacement of the entire home.

Q. What is the insured's deductible for windstorm or hail? Also, if the insured's home and automobiles are damaged, will a deductible apply to each claim?

A. The windstorm deductible varies by insured and by insurance company. The standard windstorm deductible is $1000, but can be as high as a percentage (Example, 2% to 5% of total loss) of the entire loss. Please reference your policy declaration page for more information. Additionally, the one highest deductible will be assessed to both claims.

Automobile Claims:

Q. If a vehicle has sustained flood damage, what action, if any, should be taken prior to an adjuster's inspection?

A. All fluids should be changed. This may prevent a total loss to the vehicle, or increase the salvage value in the event it is a total loss.

Q. If glass is broken in the vehicle, from hail, can the insured have this repaired immediately?

A. This is not recommended, as the vehicle may already be a total loss due to the hail damage.

Q. Does the insured need to get an estimate on a damaged vehicle?

A. Typically, n o. (unless you want to obtain one) Since the vehicle will be inspected by a company appraiser, an estimate will be written for you.

Q. Can the insured pick the body shop for repairs?

A. This varies by insurance company, but typically you can choose the body shop you would like to repair your vehicle . You may or may not have purchased rental car coverage.

Informational Credit Given to: Western National . Frequently Asked Claims Questions , 05-27-2008

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