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AAA Mid-Atlantic: If a Tree Falls in…
Strong storms deliver a knock-out punch to some property owners;
AAA offers advice to navigate insurance claims.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 16, 2018) Yesterday’s heavy rain and strong winds blew through the region, leaving downed trees and vehicle and home damage in its path up the East Coast. Those dealing with storm-related damage may need help navigating the ins and outs of insurance policies, claims and coverage.
Start by taking a deep breath and carefully surveying the damage around you, to your vehicle, home and property, or all three. Home or property loss can create a lot of stress. Auto, homeowners, or renters insurance can reduce the risk of total losses and financial instability in the wake of catastrophic events, but until you actually need your policy, most people don’t fully understand what’s covered and what’s not.
AAA Mid-Atlantic Insurance offers the following tips for those navigating through the storm’s aftermath:
- 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.
“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.”
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.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.