What to do if you have property damaged by the winter storm

"Winter's first storms have already left a path of damage and power outages across the state. When winter weather strikes, it is important to know what to do if your home is damaged or if you are involved in an automobile accident."

Kim Holland, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner

Following are some guidelines from Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland to help you deal with a property
damage claim or automobile accident.

 What to Do if Damage Occurs to Your Home

  • If you decide to file a claim, call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Cooperate
    fully with the insurance company, and ask what documents, forms and data you will need.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (i.e., cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.

What Damage to Your Home is Covered?

Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a structure due to weight of ice or snow are covered under most standard homeowners policies, but you need to review your individual insurance contract for specific coverage and exclusions. Frozen pipes as the result of extreme cold might not be covered if the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there. Check your policy and call your insurance agent or company if you need clarification or have specific questions.

What Damage to Your Home is Not Covered?

The following events are typically not covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy:

  • Interior water damage from a storm, when there is no damage to the roof or walls of your home
  • Damage as the result of a flood
  • Removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not land on and damage your home)
  • Food spoilage due to a power outage
  • Water damage from backed-up drains or sewers.

Some insurers offer endorsements (i.e., additional protection that may be purchased) for certain contingencies not covered under the standard homeowner policy. Check with your agent or company about what is available as you work to determine your needs.

What to Do if You Are in an Automobile Accident

  • Call the police.
  • Obtain the following information: The names, addresses, telephone numbers
    and driver's license numbers of all persons involved in the accident, and any witnesses.
  • Record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of vehicles involved, apparent damages and injuries, and your version of what happened.
  • Call your insurance agent or company to report the incident as soon as possible.
  • Ask your agent what documents, forms and data you will need.
  • Take notes each time you talk with your insurance company, agent, lawyers, police or others involved in the situation. Write down the dates, times, names and subjects you talked about, as well as any decisions or promises made.
  • Ask your insurance company if you have coverage for a rental vehicle if your car is not drivable. Save all receipts and bills, including those from renting a car or having your car towed and/or stowed.
  • Keep a disposable camera in your glove box or use your cell phone to quickly take photos in the event that you are in accident.

Contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department

If you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement, you should contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at http://www.oid.ok.gov or (800) 522-0071.