Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Offers Tips to Michigan Residents; Know Your Rights When Working With Insurance Companies

Contact: Andrea Miller, Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, 517-284-8668

June 19, 2018

As many Upper Peninsula residents are still cleaning up after the severe flooding over this past weekend, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) 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, be sure to communicate that you have experienced water damage and are looking to determine what coverage you have available. Do not simply state that your damage is due to a flood as there may be additional causes for water damage, such as a sewer backup or failing sump pump that may be covered under your policy.”

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. Consumers can use a tracking sheet to help stay organized during this trying time. 
  • 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.

For more information, visit “How to File a Complaint” on the DIFS website.

The mission of DIFS is to work to provide a business climate that promotes economic growth while ensuring that the insurance and financial services industries are safe, sound and entitled to public confidence. DIFS provides consumer protection, outreach and education services to Michigan residents. It strives to create and maintain active relationships with both consumers and licensees in the insurance and financial services industries to ensure adequate protections while fostering growth, strength and sustainability.

For more information about DIFS or the services provided, please visit the website at www.michigan.gov/difs, follow them on Twitter or “Like” them on Facebook.

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.