TDCI Shares Tips On Filing Insurance Claims, Home Safety and Avoiding Scams After DerechoDepartment Urges Consumers to Promptly File Claims, Complaints
NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is sharing important information with Middle Tennessee residents who sustained damage from Sunday’s storms about filing insurance claims, selecting contractors, home safety, and avoiding financial scams.
Forecasters characterize Sunday’s deadly storms as a derecho, which is a widespread storm with strong straight-line winds. Sunday’s severe weather produced winds topping 70 miles per hour that caused widespread damages and left thousands of Nashville area residents without electric service.
“The severe weather of March, April, and now May combined with the COVID-19pandemic have tested the resolve and resilience of Tennesseans,” said TDCICommissioner Hodgen Mainda. “Though we are being tested, I believe that we Tennesseans will emerge stronger and closer. During this time, it is more important than ever that we come together as a community, rebuild from the damage of the storms, reboot our economy, and move through this public health emergency.”
While rebuilding from these and other storms, TDCI urges all Tennesseans to follow all federal and state health guidelines in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19virus by always following social distancing practices by staying 6 to 10 feet apart, wearing cloth masks in public and practicing good hygiene with frequent handwashing.
To aid in rebuilding efforts, TDCI is providing tips to aid consumers when filing their insurance claims, selecting contractors, and avoiding scammers who might prey on unsuspecting consumers.
Filing Insurance Claims
- File your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
- If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
- Document the damages by taking photographs or video of any damage for each instance your home or property was damaged.
- Make the temporary repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls).
- Don’t have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide your claims adjuster with records of improvements you made prior to the damage.
- If you feel that you are unfairly denied a claim by your insurance company, consumers should file a complaint with TDCI.
What Damage to Your Home is Covered?
Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects are all covered under most standard homeowners policies. Check your policy and call your insurance agent or company if you need clarification or have specific questions.
What Damage to Your Home is Not Covered?
The following events are typically not covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy: Interior water damage from a storm, when there is no damage to the roof or walls of your home; damage as the result of a flood; removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not land on and damage your home); food spoilage due to a power outage; and water damage from backed-up drains or sewers. Some insurers offer endorsements (i.e., additional protection that may be purchased) for certain coverages not covered under the standard homeowner policy. Check with your agent or company to determine your needs.
If you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement or questions about filing a claim or about your insurance policies, contact our team at (615) 741-2218 or 800-342-4029. File a claim online here.
During power outages, many people may rely on portable fuel-powered generators which are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when natural fuels burn incompletely. Breathing high levels of carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness or even death.
The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans to never use agas generator inside a home, garage, carport basement, crawlspace or outside near a window, door or vent. A generator should only be used outdoors and at least15 feet away from buildings. It is dangerous to use a gas or kerosene heater inside a home or other building.
HIRING A CONTRACTOR
- Remember that a contractor’s license is required before bidding or price negotiations when the total cost of the project is $25,000 or more.
- For work less than $25,000, check with your local government’s building codes office to confirm whether a contractor needs a state license or local license to perform home improvement, electrical, plumbing or HVAC work, as well as their permit requirements for inspections.
- Before selecting a professional, ensure they are properly licensed for the project by visiting verify.tn.gov.
- Get several bids and check references before committing to a contractor.
- Be wary of contractors selling repairs door-to-door, especially when they ask to receive payment upfront or offer deep discounts.
- Generally, do not pay more than 1/3 of the cost upfront and make sure you have the terms of payment in writing.
- If you are dealing with a company or person who promises to remove debris from your property, ask them to list the services they will provide in writing. Ensure that your contract provides for you to make an inspection and approve the work before making the final payment.
BEWARE OF DISASTER-RELATED SCAMS
While many people seek to help during times of disaster, unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. Watch out for:
- Upfront fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans. No federal or state government agency charges application fees for services or benefits.
- Con artists posing as government employees, insurance adjusters, law enforcement officials, or bank employees. Confirm credentials by calling the agencies, if necessary.
- Organizations with names similar to government agencies or charities.MORE
- Limited time offers. Don’t be pressured to make a decision on the spot or to sign anything without having enough time to review it.
- Fake rental listings. If the offer sounds too good to be true or the property owner can’t show you the property beforehand, it’s a bad sign.
As part of rebuilding and recovery efforts, TDCI reminds consumers of the following:
- Never sign over your insurance check for rebuilding, do not pay with cash, or pay the total charges before the work is complete. State home improvement law prohibits contractors from asking for a down-payment of more than 1/3 of the total contract.
- A contractor's license is required prior to contracting (bidding or negotiating a price) whenever the total cost of the project is $25,000 or more. If you have questions about a contractor, contact the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors.
- Only conduct business with licensed insurance agents and contractors. To verify an insurance license, visit the National Association of InsuranceCommissioners. To check a license of a professional regulated by the Department, go to http://verify.tn.gov/.
- To learn more tips about selecting a contractor and avoiding scammers, visit our website here.