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Questions you should ask your insurance company if your home has storm damage

6:06 PM, Jun 26, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida-- When Debby is just a soggy memory for most of us in the area, many will turn to repairing the damage, and having insurance cover as much of the cost as possible.

But just because you have homeowners' insurance, that doesn't mean everything that is damaged will be replaced, or that you should even file a claim.

We have been lucky in the Tampa Bay area for the past couple of years and haven't had to deal with storm insurance on a wide spread basis, but now that several people have damage and are turning to their insurance policies, there are several questions being asked.

1 Q: The first is, "Do I have flood damage or wind damage?" 

1 A: Dick Tutwiler of Tutwiler Associates says, "You can have water damage that comes from your roof that ruins everything from your house, and you can have flood that comes in and washes it away." Tutwiler says it will be an issue of which caused what, "so wind vs. water is always a big deal."

And if you don't have flood insurance and you're hit by a flood, you will have to pay the cost of repair.

2 Q: Next question is: "What about damage to my Roof?" 

2 A: Tutwiler says it may be more expensive than you think. , "When you have a loss you have to go to the building department and get a permit. "Tutwiler adds, "They're going to say what happened and the building codes have changed that say if you have over 25 percent damage to your roof you will probably have to replace the whole roof to comply with the current code."

However if your policy has what's called law and ordinance coverage, and most do, you will be reimbursed.

3 Q: The next question: "What about your pools bird cage?" 

3 A: Tutwiler's son Rick says there is bad news if Citizens is your carrier, because pool enclosures are no longer covered, and neither are car ports and many other things. 

Tutwiler says "So it is imperative people look to their policies to see what those exclusions are, to see what is covered and see how much coverage they have."

4 Q: And finally should you avoid filing a claim?

4 A: Dick Tutwiler warns, "You know we have these hurricane wind storm deductables, and they are a percentage that could be from two - five percent of the house."  He says "You've got a pretty big hurdle to get over, which could be 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 before you get into the policy."

If you do file a claim, you can ask the adjuster for an advance so you don't have to bear the upfront cost. 

If you hire a restoration company to dry out your items, try to have your insurance adjuster verify you are entitled to that service, or you could be hit with a huge bill that's not covered. 

Don't forget to hire only licensed contractors. 

And finally, take pictures of all of your damage. We are told many claims are settled months later when the insurance companies can look at the pictures of what was destroyed.

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