Tips for filing a claim for winter storm damage - - Columbia, South Carolina

Tips for filing a claim for winter storm damage


This week's winter weather damaged a number of homes, cars, and businesses in South Carolina.

Standard homeowners' policies cover winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice damage and damage caused by weight of ice or snow. Auto liability coverage will cover damage to someone else or their property, and collision/comprehensive is an optional coverage that will cover damages to your own vehicle.

For those who have experienced damage, the South Carolina Insurance News Service provided some tips for filing a claim:

• Survey the damage and notify your insurance company of any losses. Provide your agent with a copy of your home inventory if you have one. Important: Leave a number where you can be contacted if you are not at home.

• Make any temporary repairs necessary to protect property from further damage. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs to prevent further destruction. Keep all receipts for materials used.

• Do not dispose of damaged personal property until an adjuster has had the opportunity to look at it.

• If it is safe to access the area, take photographs or video to document damaged property.

• Find your insurance policy and have your policy number handy when you are ready to make your claim.

The most serious losses will be given priority, but your insurance agent will see that your needs are taken care of. After a catastrophe, insurance companies often provide ways to handle increased claim volume, and help their customers recover in a timely manner. Catastrophe teams and temporary adjusters may be called into action, and call centers may be activated to help file claims and offer assistance.

Unfortunately, catastrophes often invite some unscrupulous activity by repair contractors. To help avoid getting ripped off, use care in selecting any repair contractor. No one should be pressured into signing a contract with a particular company. As with any repair, you have the right to choose who makes your repairs and when they are made. Contact the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation to make sure the contractor you choose is licensed to do business in this state.

When selecting a contractor:

• Take your time in choosing a contractor. Contact more than one company and get written estimates for the proposed job.

• Investigate the performance of any repair contractor you consider hiring. Ask for references and check them. Your Better Business Bureau is another good resource.

• Never give a deposit until you have checked the company thoroughly and have a written contract.

• Talk to your insurance company yourself about the damage claim. A contractor cannot speak for your insurer or the details of your policy. Insurers may also be able to offer advice about hiring contractors and vendors to help with repairs.

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