MADISON – Wisconsin’s Insurance Commissioner Nathan Houdek has some helpful tips for those who need to file a claim for property damage due to the recent winter storms.
This winter has brought Wisconsinites face-to-face with several storms, from snow and ice to extreme winds and cold. Depending on the severity of the storm, homeowners may have experienced property damage.
“Ice dams, car accidents, and power outages may have caused damage to property during this week’s storm,” said Houdek. “If you experienced any damage, it’s important to notify your insurance agent or company right away to begin the claim process.”
Commissioner Houdek Offers Tips
Experts from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) agree that the following tips are helpful and highly recommended for consumers to follow when reporting property damage to their insurance companies:
- Make a list of damaged items, including cracks in walls, missing shingles, spoiled food due to a power outage, etc.
- Take photographs of the damages before you begin to clean up
- Don’t throw out any damaged property without the claim adjuster’s agreement
Another tip is to be prepared ahead of time. Do you have an inventory of the contents of your home? The OCI has an exhaustive – and printable – Personal Property Home Inventory document for homeowners to use.
Are you unsure of the claims process? The OCI’s “Consumer’s Guide to Settling Property Insurance Claims” is available by clicking on the link.
Beware of Storm Chasers
Commissioner Houdek also warned against the possibility of “storm chasers.” These people follow after storms and attempt to gain repair jobs from those who sustained property damage. Storm chasers can be aggressive and pushy as well, making it difficult to say no. Stand your ground and look for a local company that has built a solid reputation.
Some storm chasers will offer to pay the deductible on your policy, or even offer you cashback. Because they seem helpful, most will push homeowners into signing a contract that locks them into an agreement without complete understanding. Sometimes, they take the money and disappear, but mostly they will take the money and leave the unsuspecting homeowner with an inferior repair job that will not stand the test of time.
“As Wisconsinites recover from this storm, storm chasers who are unlicensed to perform repairs may try to take advantage of the situation,” said Houdek. “Do your homework before signing any contracts and consider working with your insurance company to identify reliable, licensed contractors.”
Insurance and Repair Information
More useful information can be found by clicking the following link, which has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Home Improvement Emergency Home Repair Tips.
The Wisconsin Consumer Protection Hotline is a valuable resource to discover if there have been complaints filed against particular contractors or businesses. Call 800-422-7128 or email DATCPHotline@wisconsin.gov.
Furthermore, the OCI is available for those who may encounter issues with their insurance agent or company. Filing a complaint can be done by phone, at 800-236-8517 or through the OCI’s webpage, Filing an Insurance Complaint. On the website, Wisconsinites are able to file a complaint online or request to have a paper form sent by mail.