DIFS Offers Tips to Michigan Residents; Know Your Rights When Working With Insurance Companies

Contact: State Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer, 517-284-3882

June 29, 2017

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is providing tips to consider when working with insurance companies to file a claim and repair damages.

“Severe damage to your house can be a stressful situation for everyone involved,” said Patrick M. McPharlin, director of the DIFS. “When working with insurance companies, make sure you thoroughly document your damages and know your coverage rights.” 

Residents are encouraged to do the following if they suffered damage to their home/property:

  • 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.
  • 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 a percentage 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 whomever you feel comfortable using.
  • Check your policy for debris removal.
  • 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 percent of the loss settlement amount.  You are not required to hire a public adjuster to file a claim.

Anyone with questions or concerns about their insurance coverage is asked to call the DIFS toll-free hotline at 877-999-6442.

If you believe your insurance company has not handled your claim properly, file a complaint with the DIFS. They will determine whether your insurance company has followed the Michigan Insurance Code and your policy language in their processing of your claim.

About the Disaster

Lt. Gov. Calley declared a “state of disaster” for Isabella and Midland counties on June 23. On June 28, Gov. Rick Snyder instructed the Michigan State Police (MSP) to amend a recent “state of disaster” declaration to include two additional counties in mid-Michigan after severe weather and intense rain struck the counties resulting in widespread flooding damage. Along with Isabella and Midland counties, the amended disaster declaration now includes Bay and Gladwin counties. By declaring a "state of disaster," the state of Michigan will make available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the disaster area as outlined in the Michigan Emergency Management Plan. Calley’s declaration authorizes the MSP/EMHSD to coordinate state efforts.

The public is encouraged to monitor local media for up-to-date weather reports and emergency information. For updated information and additional safety tips, follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS or visit www.michigan.gov/miready.