Washington Insurance Commissioner

The Office of Washington Insurance Commissioner, Mike Kreidler, has published information on dealing with storm-related insurance claims.
We hear a lot of these questions, and here are some great answers, from trees to TVs.

Here are some tips and frequently-asked questions about insurance claims:

Will filing a claim make my insurance premiums go up?
It may. So it’s a good idea to first weigh the cost of the repair, your deductible, and the possibility that you’ll pay higher insurance rates in the future before deciding whether to file a claim.

My neighbor’s tree fell on my house. Whose insurance pays?
Your homeowners will often pay for the damage, even if it was your neighbor’s tree. And you’ll be responsible for the deductible. Sometimes your insurer can get the neighbor’s insurance to pay, if it can be shown that the neighbor was at fault. But that can be hard to prove.

My car was damaged. Can I choose which repair shop to take it to?
Yes, you can generally choose which shop to take the car to. But the shop and insurer must agree on price. If they can’t agree, you could be stuck paying the difference.

A tree fell on my car. Am I covered?
Yes, as long as you have comprehensive auto coverage.

We lost power and my freezer thawed. Am I covered?
Yes, most homeowners policies cover this. But it may not be worth filing a claim, especially if you have a high deductible.

Trees and branches fell in my yard. Will my homeowners insurance pay for cleanup?
Probably not. Standard homeowners policies don’t cover tree removal and cleanup unless the tree fell on the home, car, garage, etc.

A tree fell on my carport. Will my insurance cover that?
Yes, homeowners coverage will usually cover that kind of damage.

I’m worried about flooding. Does my homeowners policy cover flooding.
No. A standard homeowners policy does not cover flooding. Flood coverage typically requires a separate policy. Many homeowners get this coverage through the federally run National Flood Insurance Program.

My television was ruined by a power surge when the electricity came back on. Will my insurance cover that?
Most homeowners policies do cover appliances and electronics ruined by a power surge. But consider your deductible. In some cases – particularly for low-cost or old equipment – it may not be worth filing a claim.

The Insurance Commissioner’s Office encourages people to contact their agent or insurer about any claim and reminds the consumer that the Insurance Consumer Hotline is available at 1-800-562-6900 if their claim is denied or delayed or if the policy language is confusing.

Source: Washington Insurance Commissioner’s Office