The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) notes that in 2016, “Across the nation, most hail claims, 55 percent, were for home damage with personal auto damage representing 32 percent of all hail claims.”
You can worry about what may happen to your property when hailstorms strike, or you can be prepared. The three most important steps you can take to protect your home, business, or vehicle? Easy. Have a strong: roof, insurance policy, and relationship with your insurance agent.
1. Don’t Be Shy
When it comes to reviewing your policy, don’t be afraid to talk about potential losses with your agent. Keeping the conversation clear and open are great ways to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
“Don’t be afraid to bring up the subject to see how your policy would respond to a hail claim,” Melissa Thompson, PayneWest Client Relations Associate Director, says. You might find you can avoid problems with a little planning.
“A transparent conversation with your agent might save you lots of money later,” Thompson notes. “Lots of consumers especially in this area of the country have already had some hail repairs done, and they may have put on 30- or 50-year hail-resistant shingles,” she says. “Don’t forget to let your agent know about these repairs! You might be able to get discounts on your policy.”
2. Be Proactive
It doesn’t have to be hail season (spring, summer, and fall) to have that conversation about coverage with your agent. In fact, it might be easier to discuss matters when lots of claims aren’t coming in from the past week’s storms.
If you’re worried that you might be under-insured, or if you’ve added property you haven’t covered, it’s better to talk before those storms are on the horizon. We know that insurance isn’t what everybody (except us) wants to talk about all day, that’s why we value having open and honest conversations with our clients, to make everything as easy as possible.
3. Be Wary of Opportunists
After a storm, it’s common to see new “storm chasers” in the area knocking on doors where hail damage has occurred. Thompson warns not to be taken in by promises of quick work or sneaking around insurance claims.
“Storm chasers will make hail damage victims nervous with a sense of urgency,” Thompson says. “We want to caution everyone against not doing your homework, or being pressured into agreeing to any repairs prior to speaking with your PayneWest Insurance agent first,” she says. “There shouldn’t really be the pressure to do things.”
One good place to always check is the Office of Consumer Protection. Before you sign any contract to have repairs done on your property, look at their website and see if the company you’re agreeing to work with has had complaints.
The NICB also has a simple list of what you should (and shouldn’t) do to avoid fraud when you’re looking to get repairs done after a hailstorm:
- Get more than one estimate.
- Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.
- Demand references and check them out.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number (VIN).
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
- Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
- Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language.
- Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
If you do have damage, and you’ve secured your home and your family, then it’s the right time to call your PayneWest agent. They can talk you through all the next steps, calmly and clearly. It’s just how we like to do business.