Last week’s nor’easter left quite a mess in New Hope, Solebury, and the rest of Bucks County.
Dozens of families in Solebury Township, along with hundreds of residents in nearby Lambertville and beyond, are still living without electricity and passable roads. Damaged cars, trucks, and homes are adding to the heartache and stress for many.
The following tips for those navigating insurance claims and coverage through the storm’s aftermath were compiled by the friendly folks at AAA Mid-Atlantic:
- If your car is damaged by a fallen tree or limbs, you would need to file a claim using your vehicle policy’s comprehensive coverage.
- Physical damage to a car caused by heavy wind or fallen tree limbs is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy.
- If your tree falls on your house, your insurance will cover removal of the tree and home repairs due to damage.
- If your tree falls on your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s homeowner’s policy would provide insurance coverage. The same holds true if your neighbor’s tree falls on your home; you would file a claim with your own insurance company.
- If a tree falls in your yard, but doesn’t hit anything, you would pay for its removal in most cases.
- If a tree on your property is weak, damaged, or decayed, but you do nothing about it, and it crashes down on a neighbor’s home (or vehicle), you could be held liable for damages.
- Wind-related damage to a house, its roof, its contents and other insured structures on the property is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Wind-driven rain that causes an opening in the roof or wall and enters through this opening is also covered.
- Damage to a house and its contents caused by a collapse is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
- If you lose food/beverages as a result of a power outage, is that covered under your homeowners or renters insurance? It depends.
- Some policies may provide coverage from food spoilage up to $500 from power loss, however, not all policies provide this coverage directly in the policy.
- Additional food spoilage coverage can usually be added to your policy for an additional premium.
Other Helpful Tips
- Take appropriate immediate and temporary measures to prevent further damage. If you do make minor repairs before an insurance adjuster arrives, save receipts to submit for reimbursement.
- Phone your insurance agent or company immediately. Be prepared with a list of questions ahead of time: Am I covered? Does my claim exceed my deductible? How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?
- If your home is damaged to the extent you cannot live there, find out if you have coverage for additional living expenses for accommodations while repairs are completed. If you do stay at a hotel, keep your receipts for reimbursement.
- Schedule a time for an adjuster to inspect the damage to your property.
- Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles. Avoid throwing out damaged items until the adjuster has visited. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage.
- Get claim forms. Insurance companies will send required claim forms by a specified time period. Be sure to completely fill out the form and return promptly to avoid delays.
“Insurance policies can vary and it’s extremely important to fully understand what your policy does and does not cover,” says Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Even if you were lucky enough to make it through this last storm unscathed, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with what’s covered before the next storm arrives,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
As a resident of Richboro and as a professional engineer engaged in claims and litigation work, your readers should also be aware that damage due to moving water (in contrast to wind driven rain) may or may not be covered, depending upon their insurance policy details. Wind versus flood is a common issue. When submitting a claim, it may be advisable to engage a public adjuster to assist to ensure coverage of the damaged articles/structure is fully covered per the policy.