NASHVILLE – Ahead of potentially sub-zero temperatures and snow across Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) wants consumers to know what to do in case of home or automobile damage as a result of the February winter storm system. The following are some guidelines to help consumers deal with a property damage claim or automobile accident.
What to Do if Damage Occurs to Your Home
Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Cooperate fully with the insurance company, and ask what documents, forms and data you will need.
Take photographs/video of the damage.
Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (i.e., cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
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 incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.
What Damage to Your Home is Covered?
Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a structure due to weight of ice or snow are all covered under most standard homeowners policies. Frozen pipes as the result of extreme cold might not be covered if the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there. 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, you can contact the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance for assistance at (615) 741-2218 or 1-800-342-4029.