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COLUMBUS, OH (Toledo News Now) -
Following a strong line of severe weather that sparked tornados and damaging winds across the Midwest Sunday, Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director, Mary Taylor, is offering tips to help navigate the insurance claim filing process. Taylor is also warning Ohioans to beware of fraudulent contractors trying to take advantage of people in need of property repairs.
"Yesterday's storms devastated communities across much of the Midwest," Taylor said. "The damage and aftermath means many Ohioans must now file insurance claims, in order to begin rebuilding and repairing damaged property. Start by contacting your agent or insurance company, or contact the department if you are experiencing problems during the claims process."
Taylor said that protection for vehicles against damage caused by windstorm, hail and tornado is provided through an auto policy's "other than collision" or "comprehensive" coverage.
If you suffered storm damage:
-Call your insurance agent or company as soon as you can. Be sure your agent knows how to contact you, especially if you have to move out of your home.
-Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage, if permitted by public safety authorities and if you will not endanger yourself.
-Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.
-If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for "loss of use" coverage.
-Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
To avoid becoming a victim of contractor fraud:
-Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.
-Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
-Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.
-If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch them conduct the inspection.
-Obtain, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.
-Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.
-Pay the contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash, and do not pay in full until all work has been finished.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the department's consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526.
Those who have been victimized by contractor fraud should contact the department's fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1527.