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Responding to a Catastrophe
Michigan is a beautiful state in which to live and work. However, natural disasters can be an unexpected interruption to our day-to-day lives. Knowing how to plan for and respond to catastrophes such as tornadoes, floods, winter storms, and fires will lessen the impact of such a disaster.
Insurance and Disasters
One way to be prepared for a natural disaster is to verify that you have the appropriate insurance coverage to help you get your life back to normal as quickly as possible. Here is a list of possible insurance coverages you may wish to consider purchasing or discussing with your insurance agent:
- Auto Insurance
- Flood Insurance
- Homeowners and Renters Insurance
- Insurance Information for Michigan Consumers Water and Sewer Backup Coverage
Michigan High Water Levels
The Great Lakes are experiencing the highest water levels since 1986, and storms and wave action are causing erosion and flooding of the shoreline. DIFS offers the following resources to Michigan consumers if they are experiencing these catastrophic losses:
- Flood Insurance: What You Need to Know
- Private Flood Insurers
- Boat Insurance
- Homeowners Insurance - How to Claim What is Yours
Before the Disaster
Your insurance policy might not have the coverage that meets all of your personal needs. Therefore, reviewing your policy each year to make sure your coverage is adequate is important. If you have concerns with something not being covered, speak to your agent about adding endorsements to expand coverage.
Here are some other great ways to prepare for a disaster:
- Prepare a detailed inventory of your personal property with photographs of each room in your home to help you complete the claim process. Make a list of other valuables and equipment that do not appear in the photos. Put these materials in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box or with a relative. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) created an app for iPhones and Androids to help you make a list of your personal property, or you may use their paper form as well.
- Make a list of important telephone numbers and know how to contact family members. Remember to include your insurance agent and insurance company.
- Keep a copy of all declaration pages and insurance cards in a safe place (vault or safe deposit box) in case the originals are destroyed or lost.
After the Disaster
- Contact your insurance agent or your insurance company's toll-free claims number as soon as possible. Keep a record of the time, date, topic and name of the person you talk to every time you call (Insurance Tracking Sheet).
- As a policyholder, you have the obligation to make temporary repairs as needed to prevent further damage. For example, a hole in the roof should be covered by a tarp or other material to keep water or other weather elements out. Further damage may not be covered by insurance if temporary repairs are not completed. Keep receipts for materials you buy so you can be reimbursed. Do not make permanent repairs until your insurance company has inspected the damage. If you do, your claim might be denied.
- Take pictures, if possible, of the damage.
- Start making a list of all personal property destroyed or damaged. Note the approximate date, price, and place of purchase and attach any sales receipts you have. The adjuster will request this information. In addition, the insurance company may want to inspect the damaged items, so do not throw anything away.
- Ask your insurance agent or company if your policy covers living expenses until repairs are made to your home. Many homeowners policies provide for temporary lodging and meal expenses up to 20 percent of the insured value of your home.
- If you own a business ask about business interruption coverage, which will help cover a loss of income a business may suffer while the damages are being repaired.
- Your insurance company may have a preferred contractor or repair facility list. You are not obligated to use their suggestion, and have the right to choose who ever you feel comfortable using.
- A "public adjuster", or a person licensed by the state, may offer to represent you in claim negotiations with your insurer. Public adjusters will seek part of your settlement as payment for their services; however, their fee cannot exceed 10% of the loss settlement amount. You are not required to hire a public adjuster to file a claim.
Beware of Fraud
- Be present when contractors inspect the damage. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals may cause damage to drive up the repair cost and your insurance company will not cover the additional cost.
- Remember insurance companies pay their adjusters as an employee of the company, and they should not ask you for any payment for their services.
- If you hire a public adjuster make sure they are licensed by the State of Michigan.
- Be suspicious of solicitors who offer to do repairs for you.
- If you believe you are a victim of price gouging contact Michigan’s Attorney General at 877-765-8388 or visit their website for further information.
How DIFS Can Help
DIFS licenses insurance companies, agents, and public adjusters who do business in Michigan. We can help answer questions regarding what an insurer must do and help explain policy language. If you believe your insurance company has not handled your claim properly, file a complaint with us. We will determine whether your insurance company has followed the Michigan Insurance Code and your policy language in their processing of your claim. Visit “How to File a Complaint” on our website for more information.
Types of Disasters
Below are the different types of disasters you could face. Use the links below to see if you are prepared should these disasters or situations occur:
- Power Outage
- Tornadoes / Severe Storms
- Winter Storms
- Other helpful disaster preparedness resources
How Your Licensed Producer Can Assist After a Disaster
Your agent can provide assistance and answer questions regarding your coverages after a disaster such as:
- Start and explain the claim process.
- Ensure that you are informed of the following:
- If the policy covers the damage to the property;
- How long it will take to process the claim;
- Explain if you will need to obtain estimates for repairs; and
- Provide information regarding your policy deductibles.