7951 E. Maplewood Avenue, Suite 110
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Serving Colorado, New Mexico, Utah & Wyoming
Contact: Carole Walker, Executive Director
303-790-0216 or toll free 800-355-9524
Insurance Adjusters Survey Damage
from Last Night's Powerful Storms
July 21, 2009 – Colorado insurance adjusters are spending the morning surveying damage and answering phone calls from residents hit by storms that tore through Arvada, Lakewood, Englewood, Wheat Ridge and up through Fort Collins. Reports of golf ball-sized hail, strong winds and heavy rains have downed trees, toppled fences and caused damage to roofs, siding and cars. Fortunately, homeowners insurance covers damage from wind and hail, and damage to vehicles from hail and flooding is covered if you carry comprehensive insurance on your auto policy. Though it is still too early to estimate the total cost of this storm, insurance companies are busy surveying damage and will begin meeting with customers throughout the day to begin the claims settlement process.
"Residents who suffered damage from last night's storms should contact their insurance agent or company representative immediately," says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. "Serious losses will be given priority, so take photographs and document damage, and then make temporary repairs. Be sure to keep any receipts as those will likely be covered as part of your claim settlement."
This summer's severe weather season is more reminiscent of weather patterns in the mid 80's and early 90's, but Colorado is considered "hail alley" and receives more damaging hail than almost anywhere else on earth. The week of severe weather that pounded the South Metro in June caused an estimated $161 million in insured losses, while the most expensive catastrophe in Colorado history swept through the Front Range on July 11, 1990, causing $625 million in hail and wind damage – that's nearly $1 billion in today's dollars.
For more background on Colorado's most costly insured catastrophes:
Claims Filing Advice:
The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association has this advice for affected residents filing claims for damage.
Be prepared to give your agent or insurance representative a description of any damage. Your agent will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or a qualified adjuster. Some companies also have 24-hour, 800 numbers for claims assistance.
Take photos of the damaged areas. These will help with your claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Be sure to make two copies—one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save receipts for supplies and materials you purchase. Your company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
Serious losses will be given priority. If your home has been destroyed or seriously damaged, your agent will do everything possible to assure that you are given priority.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor:
Hiring a reputable contractor to do repairs or construct a new home is critical. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to choose a contractor. Also check with the area Home Builders Association, Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Make certain they are licensed and have adequate insurance coverage.
Don't become a victim of disaster fraud. After a natural disaster, professionals often go from door-to-door in damaged neighborhoods, offering clean up or repair services. Many of these business people are reputable. Others are not. The dishonest ones may pocket payment without completing the job or use inferior materials and perform shoddy work not up to code.
- Get more than one estimate. Don't be pushed into signing a contract right away.
- Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, materials, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations should be detailed.
- Demand references and check them out.
- Ask to see the salesperson's driver's license and write down the license number and license plate number.
- Ask for proof that the contractor is bonded, carries liability insurance, and covers his/her workers with workers compensation insurance.
- The contractor's business card should have a verifiable street address and office phone number.
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished. Request a lien waiver indicating the contractor has paid its subcontractors and suppliers.
- Insurance coverage may be rendered void if intentional misrepresentation by a policyholder is discovered.
- If you believe you have been approached by an unlicensed contractor or adjuster, or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or call the National Insurance Crime Bureau Hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422).
For more consumer information on insurance topics logon to www.rmiia.org.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association is a non-profit consumer information organization. Affiliated with the Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA has been serving consumers and the media since 1952.