BISMARCK, N.D. – With the summer season officially underway, Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread urges North Dakotans to be prepared and know what to do after a severe summer storm if they’ve suffered damages or loss.
“Many of us look forward to the warm weather and the opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors that summer brings, however, with the sunshine often comes wind, hail, rain and possibly even tornadoes,” Godfread said. “It is essential that consumers know what to do after a damaging storm hits.”
After a severe storm, a loss has occurred when insured property like the roof, siding, gutters, deck, windows, etc., is damaged by a covered risk such as wind, hail, rain and/or a tornado, and requires repair. Typically, when a loss has occurred a homeowner should file a claim with their insurer. The insurer will then complete an estimate to the damage. The homeowner is responsible for hiring an individual, company or contractor to complete any necessary repairs.
Here are some tips on how to successfully manage damage or loss due to a severe summer storm:
- Know your homeowners insurance policy and review it annually.
- Keep the name of your insurance company, your insurance policy number and your insurance company’s telephone number or email address handy at all times.
- If you have suffered property damage or loss as a result of a covered risk, you should notify your insurance agent or company as soon as possible and file a claim.
- Document, document, document – documentation is key to working through the recovery process. This is true whether you have insurance coverage for your loss or not, or whether you end up pursuing financial assistance through other avenues.
- Make a list of damaged property or lost items – when possible, include receipts with purchase dates and value.
- Take photos or videos of all damaged property.
- Separate damaged from undamaged property. Local officials may require the disposal of damaged items. If you dispose of items, keep a swatch or other sample of damaged items for the adjuster.
- Do your homework before hiring a contractor.
- Ask your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for contractor recommendations.
- Receive written estimates from multiple contractors and compare those estimates to that of your insurer’s.
- Review the Better Business Bureau’s ratings of each contractor.
- Read the fine print – know what you are agreeing to and carefully read any estimate or agreement before signing. Some contractor agreements may or may not allow you to terminate the contract once signed.
- Past storms have revealed that there are contractors who follow storms from state to state who may not have the consumer’s best interest in mind and are unable to provide or fulfill a warranty on their work.
If you are looking to hire a contractor, it is especially important to follow the tips listed above. The North Dakota Insurance Department does not regulate contractor conduct. Complaints filed with the Department concerning the conduct of contractors, even if an insurance payment is involved, will not be investigated, unless insurance fraud is suspected.
Consumers who would like to check if a contractor is licensed in North Dakota may contact the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office at (701) 328-2900. Consumers who feel uncomfortable with a contractor due to their conduct such as the use of high-pressure tactics, are encouraged to contact the North Dakota Attorney General’s office at (800) 472-2600.
If you encounter problems or have questions about an insurance claim, please contact the North Dakota Insurance Department, and for more information about summer severe weather preparedness, visit the Storms and Winter Weather section of our website.