In the aftermath of destructive storms across southern Minnesota, the Minnesota Commerce Department urges Minnesotans who experienced damage to their homes, businesses or vehicles to contact their insurance companies to start the claims process.
“Insurance is meant to be there at a time when people are most vulnerable,” said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman, who serves as the state’s insurance regulator. “If you suffered property damage, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible. The Commerce Department is here to help you understand the claims process and provide assistance if you have a problem with your insurance.”
The Commerce Department website (mn.gov/commerce) features a Disaster Information Center with guidance about how to plan ahead and what to do after a disaster strikes.
The Commerce Department offers these tips:
Notify your insurance company or agent as soon as you can to start the claims process. If possible, have your policy information available when you call.
Make temporary inexpensive repairs to prevent further damage. For example, board up broken windows or throw a tarp over a leaky roof. Keep receipts for materials you buy, so you can be reimbursed. Do not make permanent repairs until your insurance company has inspected the damage.
Record the damage. Take photos or video if possible. Make a detailed list of all personal property destroyed, damaged or lost. Share this list with the insurance adjuster. Do not throw out any damaged items until the adjuster has inspected them.
If you need to relocate because of damage to your home, keep receipts for your temporary living expenses. Ask your insurance agent or company if your policy covers living expenses until repairs are made. Many homeowners’ policies provide for temporary lodging and meal expenses up to a certain percentage of the home’s insured value.
Work with the insurance company adjuster. Your insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect the damage. The insurer pays the adjuster, so you should not be asked for any payment.
The adjuster will provide you with a proof-of-loss form. Use this form to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. You will receive your claim payment after you and the insurer agree on the amount of the damages.
You have the right to choose which contractor will repair your home. Once your insurance claim is processed, get estimates from local contractors known to you or recommended by someone you trust. Avoid “storm chaser” contractors from out of town who go door to door. Check a contractor’s license status at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry website (https://secure.doli.state.mn.us/lookup/licensing.aspx utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery), which also has tips for hiring a contractor.
Your homeowners insurance will generally cover removal of a fallen tree only if it caused damage to your house or other insured structure. There may also be a coverage limit for the cost of removal.
Storm damage to your vehicle may be covered by your auto insurance. Whether your vehicle was damaged by hail or a fallen tree, your loss may be covered as long as you selected “comprehensive” or “other than collision” in your auto policy. Check your Minnesota Insurance Identification Card or call your agent or insurance company.
If you have a complaint or cannot resolve your insurance claim, contact the Commerce Department for assistance.
Commerce is here to help
If you have a question or concern about your insurance, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).