FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2015
Harrisburg, PA – Hot summer weather offers the chance to enjoy Pennsylvania’s great outdoors, but also brings thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and even tornadoes, which can damage homes. Acting Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller is encouraging residents to ensure their homeowners’ insurance is ready for severe summer weather.
“Reviewing your homeowners’ insurance policy is a good idea to make sure you have the coverage you need,” said Miller. “Expensive items, such as jewelry, electronics, or collectibles may exceed the limits of your coverage, and protecting them may require an additional policy.”
Miller also emphasized the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value in homeowners’ policies. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home after depreciation. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recommends insuring your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement cost.
Understanding your policy will also help plan for any out-of-pocket expenses, such as temporary living expenses if you can’t stay in your home. The NAIC’s Consumers Guide to Homeowners Insurance offers more information about homeowners policies.
Miller also reminds consumers about steps to take following a damaging incident. Creating a home inventory of belongings is helpful if you ever need to file a claim. Include as much information as possible about items, such as brand names, prices paid for items, dates of purchase, makes and models, and serial numbers. Take photos of each item and include any receipts. Remember to go through all your drawers and closets, and include items stored in your garage. The more details you can provide, the easier it will be for your insurance company to evaluate your loss. If you don’t have time to create a home inventory, then quickly videotape and/or photograph each room.
“If your home is damaged before beginning to clean up, document your losses. Take photos or video and make a list of the damages or damaged items, and, if possible, save these items for your insurance company representative to review,” Miller said.
Homeowners are also responsible for taking reasonable steps to avoid further damage to their home or belongings, including temporary repairs, such as covering a hole in the roof, or hiring a qualified professional to do this work. Insurance companies typically reimburse the cost of these repairs as a part of a claim.
“While making sure your family is safe and cleaning up what you can are always top priorities, you need to file your insurance claim as soon as you can, as most companies have a statute of limitations for filing a claim,” Miller said. “It’s important to contact your insurer as soon as possible after a storm damages your home.”
Your insurance company will send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage at no cost to you. The adjuster will then provide documentation of the loss to your insurance company to determine your claim’s settlement.
Miller also advised caution when choosing a contractor to make repairs to your home. Check licensing and references, always insist on a written estimate before authorizing any repairs, and don’t sign any contracts before an adjuster has surveyed the damage.
For more information on insurance products and protections go to www.insurance.pa.gov or call 877-881-6388.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, Insurance Department, 717-787-3289